As the Detroit Lions look ahead to the 2023 NFL season, one key player they will need to make a decision on is wide receiver DJ Chark. The Lions signed Chark to a one-year, $10 million deal before the 2022 season, and after a slow start, Chark really showed that he can bring value to the team. However, if the Lions want to keep Chark on their roster, they may have to overpay to do so. If Detroit is not able to work out a deal with Chark before the free-agency period begins, he will become an unrestricted free agent, which means he could sign with any team. With the wide receiver free agent pool being rather weak this year, Chark could demand more than he is truly worth.
Why it Matters for Chark and the Lions
Chark was really starting to click with quarterback Jared Goff towards the end of the 2022 season, and he was able to stretch the field with his speed and athleticism. His ability to create separation and make big plays downfield was a valuable asset for Detroit's offense. Losing Chark would mean the Lions would have to replace him either via free agency or the 2023 NFL Draft, and finding a replacement that can match his production and skill set will not be an easy task.
Chark May Demand More than Detroit is Willing to Pay
In the 2023 free agency class, the wide receiver talent is very limited, and, in my opinion, Chark will be one of the top three options available. Because of this, he will likely be able to demand a contract that is too rich for Detroit GM Brad Holmes to pay. Chark's strong finish to the 2022 season, coupled with his age (26 years old), and the lack of quality options available in free agency, will only increase his market value.
While the Lions would undoubtedly like to keep Chark on their roster, they may have to overpay to do so. Chark could demand a contract in the range of $10 million per season, while Holmes, in my opinion, may only want to offer around $8 million. If Detroit is not willing to meet Chark's asking price, then they will need to find a replacement that can match his production and skill set, and that will be a difficult task. If the Lions are serious about building a competitive team, they should seriously consider paying the price to keep Chark on their roster, even if it costs them a little extra in cap space. That being said, Holmes has proven that he is the master of finding sleeper talent in the NFL Draft, so if Chark demands too much cash, Detroit may just let him walk.