Panthers land Chark to pair with Thielen, top pick

NFL

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — While the Carolina Panthers were evaluating quarterback Will Levis at Kentucky pro day on Friday, they also were adding depth at wide receiver to support whomever they select with the top pick of the draft.

The Panthers agreed to a deal with former Detroit Lions wideout DJ Chark, the team announced, with sources telling ESPN it’s a one-year contract. An outside target, Chark will pair with veteran free agent signing Adam Thielen, who recently got a three-year deal.

Chark and Thielen are part of an effort to replace 2018 first-round pick DJ Moore, who was part of a deal with the Chicago Bears to move from ninth to first in the draft.

Chark took to Twitter on Friday afternoon, calling the opportunity to join the Panthers “second to none!

General manager Scott Fitterer and coach Frank Reich are trying to strengthen the skill group that will be around their top pick. They spent Wednesday and Thursday at the pro days of Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and Alabama’s Bryce Young, the two players they moved up in the draft to have a shot at.

They also are looking at Levis and Florida’s Anthony Richardson, who will have his pro day on March 30.

Adding Chark and Thielen, along with running back Miles Sanders and tight end Hayden Hurst, will take some of the pressure off the rookie quarterback to carry the offense immediately.

Chark, who signed in Detroit as an unrestricted free agent ahead of the 2022 season on a one-year “prove-it” contract, continued to be a vertical threat in the passing game, averaging 16.7 yards per catch in 11 games.

The speedy receiver caught 30 passes for 502 yards and three touchdowns for the Lions last season. At 6-foot-4, Chark, who turns 27 in September, has the ability to win outside matchups as a boundary target.

The 2018 second-round pick spent his first four NFL seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and he was a Pro Bowl selection in 2019. Overall, he has 177 receptions for 2,544 yards — an average of 14.4 yards per catch — and 18 touchdowns.

ESPN’s Eric Woodyard contributed to this report.

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