The Detroit Lions will now NEED to add another wide receiver this offseason. With the departure of DJ Chark, who joined the Carolina Panthers on a one-year deal, the Lions should dip into the WR market once again. With how Brad Holmes and the Lions have handled free agency and the offseason, they are setting themselves up with plenty of options and ammo.
The Lions may opt to wait for the NFL Draft, similarly to when they drafted Jameson Williams with the twelfth overall pick in last year’s draft. While the free agent pool has dried up, there are some names that make sense for what the Lions are looking for – a big-bodied, vertical threat “X” receiver who can make contested catches on the outside.
Here are three potential replacements for DJ Chark:
Quentin Johnston (TCU)
Johnston had plenty of hype as potentially the best wide receiver in this draft class during TCU’s playoff run. Notably against Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl, Johnston caught six passes for 163 yards and a touchdown, the score coming on a 76-yard catch-and-run to nearly put the game away.
There’s a ton to like with Johnston, and he would check off a lot of boxes for the Lions. Comparing his combine measurables to DJ Chark, Johnston is taller, heavier, bigger wingspan, and higher vertical jump. He chose not to run the 40-yard dash at the combine, but his projected time has been clocked around 4.4-4.55 seconds. Johnston is an athletic player, not to mention his ability to separate and make late adjustments to throws.
It is very possible that Johnston will still be on the board for the Lions at their No. 18 overall pick. Detroit has the unique opportunity to go best player available, so Johnston should be in the conversation. His skillset would complement well with Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jameson Williams. It would give the Lions a very nice crop of young receiver talent.
I was pleasantly surprised with Quentin Johnston's zone awareness, release package and sudden route running on a basic vertical routetree
He's going to excel on Go's, Post's, Comeback's, Corner's and Digs and then provide short stuff like slants, drags and screens
The Lions have already brought back some fan favorites this offseason. Let’s add another. Jones, despite being 33-years old, still fills a need for this Lions offense. Not only does he have something left in the tank, but he can also be another veteran leader in the locker room and can mentor St. Brown and Jamo.
Jones did not have his most productive season in 2022, as he was third-fiddle to the likes of Christian Kirk and Zay Jones.
The Lions can bring back Jones on a cheap one-year deal with no strings attached for the future. Sure, they may be playing the carousel game at WR, but Brad Holmes and Co. seem to have a good pulse on the WR market. Marvin Jones would not be my personal preference, but his name will always be in connection to the Lions, so a reunion may or may not be in the cards for 2023.
DeAndre Hopkins (ARI)
Yup. I am on the D-Hop bandwagon. Why would you not be? The opportunity to acquire one of the best WRs in the league does not come around that often, especially when the cost will not be hefty. The Cardinals have been reportedly asking teams for a first-round pick, but the price will likely go down. Whoever trades for Hopkins could give up a second-rounder, maybe even less than that.
The Lions have been clearing some cap space, probably in anticipation for another big move. If they were to trade for Hopkins, I would not expect it to happen until draft night. With the way the Lions brass have been managing the cap this offseason, acquiring Hopkins would not be that decimating. Adding Hopkins to this Lions offense alongside OC Ben Johnson would give plenty of teams nightmares.
A win-now move seems to be coming for Detroit, and this could be it.
Honorable Mentions: A.T. Perry (Wake Forest), Courtland Sutton (DEN)
Who do you think is the best replacement for DJ Chark? Would you pull the trigger on a trade for D’Andre Hopkins? Would you draft a wide receiver in the first round of the NFL Draft? Let us know!