Can Jacksonville Jaguars afford to lose WR DJ Chark in 2022?

Wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. #17 of the Jacksonville Jaguars (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. #17 of the Jacksonville Jaguars (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) /

The Jacksonville Jaguars had the most cap space in the league before the start of this year’s free agency period. They took advantage of it and signed several depth pieces and a few playmakers. Even after all their acquisitions, they still are in good cap shape. Although the Jags could add one or two players ahead of training camp, they also need to set a budget for next year. Wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. is going to be an unrestricted free agent and the team’s brass needs to decide if they’re going to keep him.

Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report recently talked about one player each NFL team can’t afford to lose in 2022 and Chark was the choice for the Jaguars. Knox says that Jacksonville could move on from the 2018 second-round pick if sophomore wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. flourishes. On the other hand, he then says that the Jags need as many receiving options for rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

Knox notes that Chark hauled in more than 1,000 receiving yards in his second year in the league. He points out that injuries played a role in his dip in production last season and is now entering the final year of his rookie contract. Knox wonders how Chark and Shenault will fare in 20201 with Lawrence now at the helm. He believes that the Jaguars owe it to the quarterback to “make sure both are around for several seasons to come”.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have options when it comes to DJ Chark.

It’s true that injuries slowed down the LSU product in 2020. Nevertheless, Knox fails to mention that he was also hindered by the Jaguars’ instability at quarterback. Had there been a more consistent option under center in Jacksonville, Chark would most likely have posted better numbers. Now that Lawrence is the starter, there’s a good chance he registers his second 1000-yard season and earns his second Pro Bowl nod.

Chark has already proved he can play at a high level, and there’s no doubt he deserves another contract. However, you need to factor in how much the Jaguars are willing to pay him. Will they ask him to take a hometown discount or lowball him? If that’s the case, the wide receiver may be better off hitting the free-agent market and have teams bid for his services.

The Jags are loaded at wide receiver. Besides Viska, they have Marvin Jones Jr., veteran Phillip Dorsett, and sophomore Collin Johnson. If they move on from Chark, the cupboard won’t be completely bare. In fact, Jaguars legend Jimmy Johnson says the team should wait to give Chark an extension as he believes Johnson is “going to be a monster”.  That may very well turn out to be the case the Texas product needs to deliver before Jacksonville makes a decision.

The Jacksonville Jaguars should wait until next offseason to decide what they want to do Chark. By then, they will know what they have in Johnson and properly assess their wide receiver unit. Also, Chark will have the chance to show what he can do with better quarterback play. If he ends up having a great season, the team’s brass won’t surely mind giving him a multi-year extension.

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