With vacancies that need to be filled at the wide receiver position, the Baltimore Ravens might see Chicago Bears restricted free agent Cameron Meredith as a solution to their problems.
ESPN’s Jamison Hensley believes the Ravens should be prioritizing Meredith as a free agent target. The Ravens are one of the two AFC teams Meredith has visited as a restricted free agent, with the other being the Indianapolis Colts.
Meredith hasn’t received an offer sheet from either team, but it doesn’t necessarily mean he is off either squad’s radar. And Hensley believes Meredith is the Ravens’ best option at improving their receiver corps via free agency.
Baltimore could sign Meredith to an offer sheet, but that would come with a few caveats.
First, the Ravens would have to be OK with Meredith’s medical situation. If you’ recall, Meredith suffered a season-ending ACL tear during Week 3 of the preseason and missed the entire season because of it. How teams view the injury (and Meredith’s progress since) might impact how teams go about valuing Meredith as a restricted free agent. For what it’s worth, there was an update with good news regarding Meredith’s progress back in November.
And then there is the contractual part of the offer sheet. The Bears have $31,949,752 in available salary cap space, which is a figure that currently stands as the seventh largest number in the NFL according to Spotrac.com. On the other end of the salary cap spectrum sits Baltimore, which has just $9,256,256 in available salary cap space – which is the eighth lowest number. The Ravens could conceivably come up with an aggressive offer, but it could almost certainly be blown out of the water by a Bears team with three times the amount of cap wiggle room.
Hensley offers up an alternative route for Baltimore to acquire Meredith, suggesting a trade for a “later-round pick” that could net Chicago something as compensation when the team could have lost Meredith for nothing. Remember, the team handed out a low-round tender for the restricted free agent earlier in March.
Meredith fits as an ideal receiver target for a lot of teams, but bringing him on board isn’t as cut-and-dry as it would be if he had a clean bill of health. Meredith could sign an offer sheet that would either result in him going to a new team or returning to the Bears on a new deal. He could also play 2018 on the one-year tender, bet on himself, and enter the market as an unrestricted free agent next year.
After seeing what guys like Paul Richardson, Taylor Gabriel, and others received as free agents in recent weeks, Meredith could position himself for a similar payday with a breakout season in Matt Nagy’s offense.