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D.J. Chark has had an interesting season for the Detroit Lions, to say the least. Signed in the offseason to a one-year, $10 million prove-it deal, Chark's 2022 campaign got off to a bit of a rocky start. But in a sport that is very much “what have you done lately,” Chark's December performance is exactly the reason the Lions signed him in the first place.
D.J. Chark's 2022 Season
As stated, it was not a great start to the season for Chark and his new teammates. Signed as the guy that could take the top off a defense, but the connection between him and Jared Goff just never seemed to take off.
A rocky beginning with a new team
His season got off on about the same foot that the Lions' season did. The team was 1-6 through their first seven games, and Chark totaled seven catches in 18 targets for less than 100 yards and only one score. Then, to add injury to insult (yes, it's intended that way), Chark only participated in one-third of the Lions' first nine games, sidelined by an ankle injury.
It's safe to say that the low-risk, high-reward signing in the offseason just wasn't going to pay the dividends expected. A flier of a signing, there was little reason not to sign Chark and all the potential for a huge gain in signing him. But, to start the season, the ROI simply was not there.
A welcomed turn-around for a potential playoff team
Chark came off the injury list and played his first game in six weeks on November 20th against the New York Giants. It was a get-right game for Chark, who only saw one target. But from there, the production came. In the final game of November, Chark had two catches for sixteen yards (not great) and a score (great!). The dam was beginning to burst as the calendar flipped to December.
As you can see, the dividends started paying off richly for the Lions and D.J. Chark in December. The connection between him and Goff has seemed to find itself as he's produced three games (out of four) with over 90 yards and at least four receptions in all three of those games. It couldn't have come at a better time, either, as the Lions have won six of their last eight games and are on the verge of securing their first playoff berth since 2014, needing to win out to get there. Chark's ability will be a key cog in those victories, making the gamble by Brad Holmes worth it entirely.
Should the Lions consider extending D.J. Chark?
Invariably, the production that D.J. Chark has amassed in 2022 should garner some discussion around being a Lion for longer than just this solitary year. Just 26 years old, he could be a mainstay in the Lions' formation for a while yet. Not to mention, pairing him with the likes of Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jameson Williams could only create havoc for opposing defenses.
The question will no doubt be about the numbers D.J. will ask for in the offseason. The Lions will have cap space, but tying too much into a wide-out is never a recipe for success, especially when there are plenty of other holes needing to be fixed. However, if the production continues the way it is the Lions will be hard-pressed to pass on looking to extend D.J. Chark and keep him taking tops off the defenses for the Lions' offense.