Jacksonville Jaguars: Keeping DJ Chark past his rookie deal

Will the Jacksonville Jaguars be able to offer wide receiver DJ Chark a second contract worthy of him staying with the organization past his 2021?

Now that the Jacksonville Jaguars have decided that offers for Yannick Ngakoue are not what they have been looking for and the team and player could not strike a long-term deal, which player on the team’s roster will be offered a contract extension moving forward?

There are young players on this roster who serve as cornerstone pieces to build around. The Jaguars’ front office has done a good job of the past few seasons to draft or bring in young talent that will help mold this organization for the future. But determining who is offer the next “mega-deal” is a process player, fans and the local and national media will watch closely.

That decision should start with wide receiver DJ Chark, but it should not be done with a knee-jerk reaction as the third-year player must still prove his 2019 season wasn’t a “one-hit wonder” like some pass catchers have early in their career.

Chark is a talent the Jaguars took in the second round, one that general manager David Caldwell told the local media on the second night of the Draft last year the team tried to trade up to make sure they acquired the former LSU star’s services.

After a less than impressive first season in the NFL, which included five weeks out of action due to an injury in the second half of the season, Chark had one of the most impressive jumps from a rookie second to the second chapter of his Jaguars career.

The connection with quarterback Gardner Minshew had something to do with that. The Jacksonville Jaguars coaching staff had better hope that chemistry continues to build this season as both players are being counted on to work within offensive coordinator Jay Gruden’s system and find success.

Having a young quarterback-wide receiver duo to build around could make the Jaguars one of the more fun teams to watch in the AFC this season, regardless of how many wins the team has in 2020.

When general manager David Caldwell and Chark’s camp do begin discussions about a new deal, how will he be viewed as a wide receiver compared to others who have received top-dollar deals and the pass catchers taken in the same draft class?

How will he compare to wide receivers within his own division?

Two years ago, according to Spotrac, Chark signed a four-year, $4,447,229 contract that including a $1,314,349 signing bonus, $1,779,732 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $1,111,807. This season, he will earn a base salary of $884,294, while carrying a cap hit of $1,212,881. That seems like a team-friendly deal in today’s NFL. Should Chark approach 90-95 catches and 1,200 yards this season, his value goes up and his negotiation leverage does as well.

It’s something to watch and consider this year, especially if the Jaguars do decide to walk away from Yannick Nagkoue before the 2020 season, freeing up another $17.8M in cap space. There are others THAT the Jaguars’ front office will have to consider over the next few years, including Minshew, pass rusher Josh Allen, and right tackle Jawaan Taylor. And if the team does make a deal to bring in another running back after 2020, what will that cost the franchise moving forward.

The next 12 months are going to be an interesting period of waiting and watching. Not only is the Jaguars front office looking to change culture and continuity within the organization it’s also working to make this a cap-friendly football team. It’s ironic this is the type of situation the Jaguars have now faced twice after Tom Coughlin was given control of the decision-making of this roster.

It’s up to Caldwell to figure this out and make it work. While his job is on the line for making Jacksonville a winner again along with head coach Doug Marrone, he is also charged with making this a football team that can go out and find quality players at a fair price.

Starting with their own players is where he should begin. Chark should be the first player he targets and should let him get away if at all possible in two seasons.

Next: Can the Jaguars and their star DE coexist?


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