Detroit Lions trade rumors: Courtland Sutton as the DJ Chark replacement?
With DJ Chark seemingly set to be gone in free agency, Courtland Sutton is now an interesting pivot option for the Detroit Lions.
If there’s a free agent the Detroit Lions are pretty clearly set to lose, it’s wide receiver DJ Chark. His market value, in a shallow market for wide receviers, is sure to be high despite three straight seasons of relatively disappointing production and durability concerns.
After being on the ground at the NFL Combine, Matthew Berry of NBC Sports offered the 23 most interesting things he heard in Indianapolis.
"9. As long as we are talking Denver, I’m told the Broncos are quietly shopping Courtland Sutton. Not actively pushing him, but definitely trying to see if there’s a trade market for him and if they get a decent offer, would move him."
Of course any idea of the Lions making a trade for, or signing, any notable wide receiver would mean Chark is gone.
But starting from that “Chark is gone” premise, which it’s clearly trending toward, does Sutton make sense as a pivot option for the Lions?
Lions trade rumors: Courtland Sutton surfaces as interesting pivot option
In 15 games for the Broncos last season, Sutton had 64 receptions (on 109 targets) for 829 yards and two touchdowns. The previous season, he had 58 catches for 776 yards and two scores. He suffered a torn ACL early in the 2020 season, so his 2019 breakthrough (72 receptions for 1,112 yards) suddenly feels like a long time ago.
Before Berry’s bit, Lindsay Jones on “The Athletic Footall Podcast” suggested Sutton is a someone who could be on the move.
"There has been some buzz around Denver lately,”.. (the Broncos) “have some larger contracts and trying to figure out what actually is going to work with whatever the Russell Wilson offense is going to look like, Sutton’s a guy whose name has been buzzing around a little bit as maybe a guy who could get moved."
Sutton has three years left on his contract, with cap hits of $18.3 million (2023), $17.3 million (2024) and $17.8 million (2025).
If Chark gets expensive, and he surely will, Sutton is more expensive over the next three years on the surface. But there’s also a palatable out of his contract in 2024, and it gets even easier in 2025. So it wouldn’t have to more than a one or two-year commitment. And outside of 2020, Sutton has been fairly durable and pretty productive given the quarterback circumstances in Denver (four seasons over 700 receiving yards).
Assuming that’s the situation they’re in, the Lions don’t seem likely to make a significant outside splash to replace Chark. But Sutton is a name that makes you think or speculate a little, and the Lions’ front office shouldn’t completely rule much of anything out.