The 1 WR That Keeps Popping up for Vikings in Free Agency

NFL: New York Jets at Jacksonville Jaguars
Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings have three options for the WR2 position on the 2023 roster, a spot growing in importance as opposing defenses continue to laser focus on Justin Jefferson.

The team can roll with Adam Thielen, who turns 33 this summer, and hope he undergoes a career rejuvenation with the only team he’s ever known. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah can also use the 2023 NFL Draft to select a rookie pass-catcher, perhaps with early-round capital.

The 1 WR That Keeps Popping up for Vikings in Free Agency

Or the Vikings can splash into free agency on the hunt for a semi-prominent name on the open market. If they choose the free-agent option, one name keeps popping up — D.J. Chark from the Detroit Lions.

The 1 WR That Keeps
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports.

First, Pro Football Focus in January envisioned a Chark-Vikings 2023 relationship. And Bleacher Report followed suit last weekend, listing Minnesota as a landing spot for Chark’s services. BR’s David Kenyon explained, “Finances will be the biggest obstacle for Minnesota. Still, the Vikings have to upgrade at receiver if they release Adam Thielen since talent elevates Kirk Cousins, not the opposite.”

Kenyon is correct about upgrading on Thielen, although it is unclear if the longtime Viking will leave the franchise this month. Thielen would carry a $19.9 million cap hit if retained by Minnesota, an amount not matching his productivity from the 2022 season.

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Keelan Cole (84) Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark (17) celebrate as they run through the end zone after Cole pulled in a touchdown pass from Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew. © Bob Self/Staff Photographer via Imagn Content Services, LLC.

A 26-year-old discovered by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2nd Round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Chark is looking for his third team. He stopped by the Lions for a year in 2022 and will now likely venture elsewhere. Chark made headlines during his sophomore season with the Jaguars, tabulating 73 receptions for 1,008 yards and 8 touchdowns — and a Pro Bowl nod.

The LSU alumnus has played five years in the NFL, tallying 177 receptions for 2,544 yards and 18 touchdowns in 54 games. He averages 47.1 receiving yards per game and can be a homerun hitter for deep balls when targeted. He’s known for his size (6’4″) and speed (4.34 forty-yard dash in 2018).

Since turning pro, Chark has caught touchdown passes from Nick Foles, Mike Glennon, Jared Goff, Trevor Lawrence, and Gardner Minshew — not exactly a who’s-who of quarterback majesty. Perhaps the man could thrive with a single QB1 or a passer more talented than that hodgepodge.

Dan Powers/Appleton Post-Crescent via USA TODAY NETWORK

PFF Brad Spielberger said about Chark to the Vikings after the regular season, “Chark represents a solid depth option who perhaps earns himself a bigger role in 2024 and beyond. Chark was also teammates at LSU in 2017 with Vikings superstar Justin Jefferson.”

“Chark signed a one-year flier for 2022 with the Detroit Lions after an up-and-down rookie contract spent with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and he may not have done enough to earn himself the substantial multi-year deal he’s looking for. Minnesota tried to bring a speed element on the outside when they signed Dede Westbrook in 2021, and Chark represents a major upgrade,” he added.

The Vikings are over the cap as of March 6th by about $15.6 million. The club released beloved linebacker Eric Kendricks on Monday. More cuts are expected before free agency begins next week. After that, yes, Chark could be a possibility to explore for Adofo-Mensah.

Other free agents like Odell Beckham, Allen Lazard, Jakobi Meyers, Darius Slayton, and JuJu Smith-Schuster will be available, too.

The Bleacher Report article also linked Chark to the Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by