Jacksonville Jaguars must hold on to WR DJ Chark in free agency
The legal tampering period to agree to terms is less than 24 hours away as of this writing and NFL club will try to secure as many free agents as possible. For their part, the Jacksonville Jaguars must add a wide receiver but they also need to find a way to keep DJ Chark Jr.
Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report recently put together a list of players each team can’t afford to lose and Chark was the pick for the Jaguars. Knox notes that Jacksonville must surround Trevor Lawrence with weapons and believes that the former LSU Tiger can “be one of those weapons“.
"Chark was a Pro Bowler and a 1,000-yard receiver in 2019 and has compiled 2,042 yards and 15 touchdowns in 43 career games. Big (6’4″, 198 lbs), fast and physical, Chark has all the tools needed to become a legitimate No. 1 target. While his injury history is a bit concerning—he has missed 21 games in four seasons—the Jaguars owe it to themselves to see what he can accomplish in a full season with Lawrence as his quarterback."
Chark isn’t an elite receiver at this stage of his career but he’s been one of the Jaguars’ most effective (and only) offensive weapons over the last few years. Injuries and instability at the quarterback position have hurt his production but he’s proven he can play at a Pro Bowl level. In 2021, he was averaging 22 yard per season before an ankle fracture ended his season prematurely. Without him in the lineup, Jacksonville struggled to move the ball and score points.
The Jaguars’ offense is better with DJ Chark than without him.
Keep in mind that even if the Jaguars re-sign Chark, they would still need to add another wide receiver in free agency or the draft. Head coach Doug Pederson says he would like the team to bring him back but they will have competition for his services, given that Las Vegas Raiders and the New England Patriots are interested in pursuing him if he hits the open market, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.
After applying the franchise tag on Cam Robinson, the Jags have around $40 million in cap space, which is more than enough to make a reasonable offer to Chark. Even though he’s coming off a season-ending injury, Pro Football Focus expects him to sign a two-year, $25 million contract ($12.5 annual average). Jacksonville could give him that kind of deal and still have ample money left to make a couple of splash signing in free agency.
The Jaguars don’t have a good track record keeping their homegrown talent. They must buck that trend if they want to turn things around and start winning games. Retaining DJ Chark would be a good start. But they must hurry up, as time is running out before the free-agency clock strikes midnight.