3 Options for Detroit Lions to replace DJ Chark

On Friday, we passed along the news that former Detroit Lions wide receiver DJ Chark has signed with the Carolina Panthers. With Chark leaving the Lions, the team will now have to decide who will replace him. Chark primarily played the “X” receiver position for the Lions, and many assume that second-year WR Jameson Williams will be his replacement. That being said, Lions OC Ben Johnson has made it clear that he plans to play Williams all over the field, including at the “X” and “Z” positions, so assuming he will be Chark's replacement would not be factually correct. The Lions have other options, such as Josh Reynolds, who could also play the “X” position, but they could also look to sign a free agent or draft a wide receiver.

DJ Chark Detroit Lions Cleveland Browns Panthers

Key Points:

  • DJ Chark has signed with the Panthers, leaving a void at the “X” receiver position for the Lions
  • Jameson Williams and Josh Reynolds are potential replacements on the current roster.
  • Ben Johnson has said Williams will play all over the field, so he cannot be looked at as Chark's “replacement”
  • The Lions could consider a free-agent receiver, or they could select one in the 2023 NFL Draft

Ben Johnson's comments mean Jameson Williams will not be the “replacement” for DJ Chark

During an interview back in February, Johnson said that the plan is to move Williams all over the place on the field.

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“We will move him around,” Johnson said on the team’s podcast. “He will be all over the place for us. I know this, when you get speed in the slot, it’s very hard to defend for a defense. There will be times we do that. There will be times he’s an X, he’ll be Z, but there’s a lot he can do.”

Assuming Johnson is being truthful, which we believe he is, the plan is not for him to be a one-for-one replacement for Chark. Instead, the Lions will use a committee to replace Chark, or they will add another wide receiver to the mix during the offseason.

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3 Options for Detroit Lions to replace DJ Chark

The bottom line is that the Lions will have to decide how they will replace Chark, as he has made the decision to leave for the Panthers. Here are 3 options for the Lions to replace Chark, including replacing from within, signing a free agent (bring back a familiar face), or taking a wide receiver in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Replace from Within

The most straightforward approach for the Lions to replace DJ Chark would be to look to the receivers they currently have on their roster. As mentioned earlier, the Lions could use the committed approach (Jameson Williams and Josh Reynolds) to fill Chark's former role as the “X” receiver. Many have said Williams will be Chark's primary replacement, but he is better suited for the “Z” position, and Ben Johnson has already said that Williams will play all over the place.

Sign a Free Agent

The Lions could also bring in a free-agent wide receiver to play the “X” position on their offense. I have been suggesting for quite a while now that the Lions could bring back Marvin Jones Jr. if Chark leaves town, and he just so happens to be available.

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Draft a Wide Receiver

If the Lions don't want to go the free-agency route, they could look to find a replacement for Chark in the 2023 NFL Draft. I highly doubt they would use a first-round pick to select a wide receiver since they just did that last year, but it would not be surprising to see them take a player on Day 2, such as Cedric Tillman out of Tennessee.

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