Detroit Lions Sign WR DJ Chark

Lions WR DJ Chark
Lions WR DJ Chark
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Offseason - The Detroit Lions addressed their glaring need for speed at wide receiver on Tuesday by signing DJ Chark to a one-year contract, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Chark played just four games for the Jacksonville Jaguars before fracturing an ankle against the Cincinnati Bengals in 2021. He earned Pro Bowl honors in 2019, catching 73 passes for 1,008 yards and 8 touchdowns, finishing 32nd in DYAR and 37th in DVOA. Chark dropped to 68th in DVOA with a 53-706-5 stat line in 2020, but his quarterbacks that season were Gardner Minshew, Mike Glennon and Jake Luton.

Chark is a deep receiver by trade, placing his production and metrics at the utter mercy of his quarterbacks. Per Sports Info Solutions, his average depth of target was 12.0 in 2019 and 14.2 in 2020. Chark caught 15-of-35 deep passes (15-plus air yards) in 2019 for 465 yards in 2019, 14-of-34 deep passes for 368 yards in 2020 and 5-of-12 for 130 yards before getting hurt in 2021. Many of his targets and much of his production came along the sidelines. 

It’s likely that Chark’s all-around production and deep-passing metrics will improve given a functional offense and league-average quarterback play. It’s not clear whether the Lions can provide those things in 2022. But Jared Goff lacked credible deep targets due to Tyrell Williams’ Week 1 injury and subsequent release last season. Chark should at least force safeties to respect the possibility of some Goff downfield floaters.

The Jaguars chose not to re-sign Chark because they were too busy spending beaucoup bucks on Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and Evan Engram, who would make a fine WR2, WR3 and TE2 on a playoff team. Chark at least has the potential to be a WR1.

Overall DJ Chark Impact: The Lions still need about two more receivers, including a starting-caliber possession target. But the Chark signing is a low-risk step in the right direction.

Fantasy DJ Chark Impact: Chark leaps to instant WR1 status for the Lions. Assuming Goff remains the starter for at least the start of the season, pencil in Chark for his 2019 numbers (semi-competent quarterbacking) rather than his 2020 (Glennon-Luton Project) numbers.



19 comments, Last at 17 Mar 2022, 9:53am

1 Chark was a guy I was hoping…

Chark was a guy I was hoping they’d sign (although for only one year was little surprising).  Shopping at the top of the market for Allen Robinson types made no sense for where they are (especially since Robinson will be on the wrong side of 30 by the time the Lions have any shot at being decent).

If he’s there, drafting Christian Watson would be smart.  Similar speed/size profile as Chark, but probably needs a year of seasoning.

2 Why would he do this?

Unless it is megabucks? Surely you don't want to sign a 1-year "prove it" deal to be catching balls from ..... Jared Goff?

4 Reportedly it’s for 10…

Reportedly it’s for 10 million (12 with bonuses).  Goff is roughly in the Gardner Minshew neighborhood, and Chark had a 1000 yard season with him.  If he can replicate that with Goff, I can imaging a team with a one of the top quarterbacks giving him a lucrative long term deal in 2023.

9 Considering Chark did sign…

Considering Chark did sign for essentially peanuts (yes, OK, $10M is a lot of money, but not really for a WR on a 1-year contract) it's apparently only weird to us. They're apparently trying to move Shenault, so if they have trouble there or trade him for similar peanuts, it's not that nuts.

To be honest the rest of the NFL apparently agreeing with the Jaguars assessment of a player is a massive step up for them.

15 Routes v Balls

He will certainly get the chance to run WR1 routes. But not sure that helps him when he  runs a deep post and Goff misses him by 10 yards. If you want to prove your credentials as a WR this seems like one of the worst places to go.

3 “The Lions still need about…

“The Lions still need about two more receivers, including a starting-caliber possession target.”

Did something happen to Amon-Ra St. Brown that I was unaware of?

11 St. Brown

In reply to by Aaron Brooks G…

More of a slot guy when they go to three-wide, they need an outside guy for three-wide sets.

12 Quintez Cephus is kind of…

In reply to by Aaron Schatz

Quintez Cephus is kind of sleeper to be that guy, as he was pretty good in a small sampl (10.6% and 25.7% DVOA his first two years), but it's also true that they'd be wise not to bank on that type of production with a full workload.  I'd rather them look in the draft, not at the middle/top of the free agency market.

18 Bad loss for Jacksonville

They lose a player with a delightful children’s theme song

The merchandising hit alone hurts

Even DJ is into it which actually is kinda cool