5 players the Detroit Lions need to prioritize in free agency

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(Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images) /
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Detroit Lions, DJ Chark
(Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Lions need to target DJ Chark in free agency.

DJ Chark hits the open market after suffering a season-ending broken ankle in Week Four of the 2021 regular season.

The Detroit Lions need a playmaker on the outside and someone who can help mask the average quarterback play we expect from Jared Goff.  I was hoping you wouldn’t read too much into that comment, I am not going to bash Goff, but I’ve always realized what he was; a stopgap option at the position.

Goff was atrocious for the first ten or so games last season but then started to find his footing as Dan Campbell took over the play-calling duties from Anthony Lynn.  I hope to see a more consistent Goff in 2022 as we did down the stretch last season, but he needs help.

Chark isn’t the top name set to hit the market, but he’s just 25-years old with a plethora of potential.  The knock, he’s coming back from the previously mentioned broken ankle.  Although it’s serious, it’s not an Achillies injury or torn-up knee; that’s the good news.

The bad news; the once-expected receiver-rich free-agent market quickly dried up before they hit the open market.  Star receivers Davante Adams, Chris Godwin, and Mike Williams all got locked up over the past couple of weeks, plus Amari Cooper was traded from Dallas to Cleveland for a cup of coffee and exchange in late-round draft picks.  That leaves the likes of Detroit native Allen Robinson to headline a group of free-agent receivers, including Chark and JuJu Smith-Schuster, T.Y. Hilton, Odell Beckham Jr, Michael Gallup, and Christian Kirk.

Chark broke out back in 2019 during his second season, making his lone Pro Bowl after amassing 1,008 yards and eight scores on 73 grabs on 118 targets.  He’d follow that up by hauling in 53 balls on 93 targets totaling 706 yards and five touchdowns.  During his time with the Jaguars, Chark didn’t exactly benefit from good quarterback play but will undoubtedly benefit from a fresh start, and somewhere he can be the top outside target.

Before suffering the ankle injury this past season, Chark hauled in seven catches totaling 154 yards and two touchdowns on 22 targets.  Jaguars rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence was struggling to find his way, plus head coach Urban Meyer appeared unprepared for a job at the professional level.

At 6-foot-4, Chark will provide Detroit with the big-bodied pass-catcher they currently lack; also, he brings an element of quickness to the offense.  His 4.34 speed will be a welcomed sight, and the Lions need to make targeting him a priority.