Chargers add wide receiver depth with the signing of DJ Chark

The Los Angeles Chargers entered the 2024 NFL draft with just four wide receivers on the roster, after trading star wide receiver Keenan Allen to the Chicago Bears for a fourth-round draft pick and cutting one of their top wide receivers, Mike Williams, both moves were made to get under the salary cap.

During the three-day NFL draft last week, the Chargers drafted three wide receivers and after the draft they added three undrafted free agent receivers to the roster, giving them a total of ten wide receivers on the roster. But they were not finished adding wide receiver talent.

On Monday, May 6, 2024, the Chargers announced the signing of veteran wide receiver DJ Chark Jr., a six-year veteran who spent the past season with the Carolina Panthers. Chark was a second-round pick (61st overall) in 2018 of the Jacksonville Jaguars. In 2019, Chark caught 73 passes with the Jags for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns.

Chark was named to the pro bowl that 2019 as a substitute for Tyreek Hill. For his career, Chark has caught 212 passes, averaging 14.5 yards per reception and has 23 touchdown receptions in six seasons. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound wide receiver played four seasons at LSU. At the 2018 NFL combine, Chark ran a 4.34 forty and had an impressive 40" vertical leap.

Chark will join the Chargers as the most accomplished receiver on the roster. He can be a big play threat but has struggled in the past few seasons with injuries and has at times been inconsistent. Chark is considered a good run blocker, which has become an important quality for any Chargers wide receiver on head coach Jim Harbaugh's team.

Chark signed a one-year deal worth up to a reported $5 million. Both Chark and wide receiver Josh Palmer will be free agents in 2025, a sign that the Chargers are managing the salary cap very carefully. There are five wide receivers under rookie contracts, all with at least three years remaining on their current contracts.

Quentin Johnston, a first-round pick in 2022, has three years left on his contract, plus a fifth-year option. Derrius Davis, a fourth-round pick at wide receiver in 2022, has three years left on his contract. Second round pick Ladd McConkey, and the two seventh round picks, Brenden Rice and Cornelius Johnson, all selected in the 2024 NFL draft, are all under four-year rookie contracts.

Undrafted free agents that make the team are under three-year contracts and become restricted free agents after the third season. For the Chargers in 2024, the rookie contracts allow the team to get under the salary cap and have enough money to sign a DJ Chark to a one-year contract.

It is possible that the Chargers could have a roster full of wide receivers on rookie contracts in 2025 if Chark and Palmer are allowed to leave as free agents. That might be the right move for the Chargers organization, especially if the young players play well. It will be interesting to see how well the young wide receiver talent develops working with quarterback Justin Herbert in 2024.


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