After suffering an early-season injury for the second straight year, DJ Chark will be have a chance to re-establish some value down the stretch. The Lions used one of their injury activations on the veteran wide receiver Saturday.
Chark ran into more ankle trouble this season. After suffering a broken ankle four games into the 2021 slate, the former second-round pick injured the same ankle in Week 3. The Lions waited a bit to place Chark on IR but ended up doing so. Chark, 26, has missed the past six games.
The Lions gave Chark a one-year, $10MM deal (fully guaranteed) to sign in March, adding him to a receiver group now centered around Amon-Ra St. Brown. The Lions have not had the chance to use their optimal receiving corps — one featuring St. Brown, Chark and Jameson Williams — due to their No. 12 overall pick still recovering from an ACL tear sustained in the national championship game. Detroit is aiming for Williams to begin practicing after Thanksgiving, but it is not certain at this point if the Alabama product will play this season.
Chark is the only Jaguars receiver to surpass 1,000 yards in the past six seasons, totaling 1,008 yards alongside Gardner Minshew in 2019. He posted 706 yards for a worse Jags squad in 2020 and did not see much action during the franchise’s Urban Meyer season due to the injury. This season, the LSU product has seven catches for 98 yards and a touchdown.
This upcoming stretch will be pivotal for Chark’s post-2022 value. The ankle fracture he suffered last year led to a reduced free agency market. The 6-foot-4 pass catcher will need to show he can stay healthy in order to create a decent market for himself next year. The 2023 free agent receiver class is not especially strong; Chark could be a key factor on next year’s market if he can fare well in the second half of his Lions campaign.