Keeping free agent WR DJ Chark in Detroit will not be easy

Wide receiver DJ Chark is one of the most prominent pending free agents for the Detroit Lions entering the 2023 offseason. The Lions and Chark each face a difficult decision about progressing with the relationship beyond one season.

Chark was the Lions’ primary deep threat in 2022. When he was healthy, No. 4 was very good in that role, too. Chark was on the receiving end of the final Lions pass of the season, sealing the victory in Green Bay in Week 18 on a critical fourth-down route.

Yet for the strong finish to his first season in Detroit, Chark did not have a great year. The Lions paid him $10 million for 30 receptions, 502 receiving yards and three TDs in 11 games. Technically Chark came to Detroit on a three-year deal, but the final two seasons are automatically voided.

Chark will have suitors outside Detroit. No doubt about that. He would walk into the No. 1 WR role in Chicago or Houston and be an upgrade at No. 2 in Cleveland, New Orleans or Dallas (to name a few). He’s not the only free agent wideout who meets those qualifications, of course, but Chark will be one of the more coveted receivers on the market.

Therein lies an issue for Detroit, which would like to keep Chark. Even if his durability concerns lower his market value — a very real possibility given Chark has missed at least three games in four of his five NFL seasons — the price tag for Detroit might be cost-prohibitive.

Another $10 million per season for Chark seems completely unaffordable for Detroit, particularly given the presence of Jameson Williams and Kalif Raymond already on the roster through 2023. Williams tantalized with his game-breaking speed late in his rookie season, while Raymond quietly topped Chark in both receptions (47) and yards (616) for under $2 million.

If Chark wants to return, he’ll need to accept a lower deal than what other teams can, and almost certainly will offer.

Story originally appeared on Lions Wire

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