Doug Pederson has been the Jacksonville Jaguars’ coach for nearly a full month, and with the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine now here, the process of acquiring talent is about to ramp up. After making their evaluations in Indianapolis, they will then look forward to free agency, where most feel the Jags need to make many splash signings.
That will also include retaining some of their pending free agents. Receiver DJ Chark Jr. is one of the most notable names of the group that many fans have been vocal about keeping, and it appears Pederson agrees.
In a radio appearance on 1010XL’s “Jaguars Today,” Pederson said he viewed Chark as one of the team’s offensive standouts and wanted to work with him in the future.
“On offense, we mentioned Trevor [Lawrence], but when you take him away, you think about James Robinson, you think about Travis Etienne, you think about even, you know, hopefully, we get DJ Chark back,” Pederson said when speaking on players who stood out to him. “You think about some of these younger receivers that we do have and there is some skill and ability there that we are excited as a staff to get going with.
“We have some work to do, obviously. It’s not there yet and that is why we are here. We are evaluating, and we are going to add some talent, add some depth through free agency and the draft and, you know, that is the process and that is what helps you win.”
They currently have around $56.8 million available in cap space, so the money is there for them to pay Chark. However, the tricky part about retaining him is figuring out the type of deal to give Chark.
Chark’s contract year didn’t go that well, as he only played in four games due to a season-ending ankle injury that occurred against the Cincinnati Bengals. As a result, he added 13 missed games to his career total in addition to the nine he already had (bringing his total to 22).
However, the argument could be made that he’s the most talented receiver on the roster and does give them speed on the perimeter, something they missed greatly last season. His 2019 season was his best (went to the Pro Bowl after garnering 1,008 receiving yards), and if the new staff can get him back to that level of play, it would be huge.
If the Jags can get him back on a short-term deal that would be the best move for the team at the moment. But even if the team comes to a deal with the fifth-year player, they still would need to find a No. 1 receiver to play alongside him.