For the second time this offseason, the Chicago Bears have a decision to make regarding the future of one of its young playmakers.
NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reports the New Orleans Saints have signed wide receiver Cameron Meredith to an offer sheet. Sources tell Rapoport that the Saints have come marching in with a two-year deal worth $9.6 million, including $5.4M in guarantees. And as ESPN’s Adam Schefter notes, the Saints have some familiarity with Meredith because their wide receivers coach (Curtis Johnson) served in that capacity with the Bears in 2016 when Meredith had his breakout season.
This puts Bears GM Ryan Pace officially on the clock.
The team now has five days to match the deal or lose Meredith without compensation. Chicago placed the low-round restricted free agent tender on Meredith, which would have paid him $1.907 million had New Orleans not come in with an offer sheet. Of course, the Bears could have given him a second-round tender ($2.914 million), which would have essentially kept any team from tendering him an offer because the compensation for the Bears not matching would have been a second-round pick.
It wasn’t that long ago when the Bears faced a similar situation with cornerback Kyle Fuller, who received an offer sheet from the Green Bay Packers while under the transition tag. The Bears moved quickly to match the deal, which could pay out $29 million to Fuller over the first two years of the deal – which is still cheaper than what two years under the franchise tag would have been.
Decision 2017: Part II will come down to how the Bears feel about Meredith’s knee after coming off an ACL injury from the preseason that caused him to miss the entire 2017 season.
If the Bears feel good about the progress he has made in that regard, the team will likely have no problem matching the deal and sliding Meredith into a lineup alongside Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel. But if the team isn’t confident about Meredith’s knee, they will waive goodbye to the wideout who led the team in catches and receiving yards in 2016. And if that’s how it plays out, it will open up another position of need on the depth chart.
Considering the relatively minimal commitment and the Bears’ salary cap standing, the Bears would probably be wise to match the deal sometime within the next five days if everything checks out medically.
We’ll update you as soon as there’s more.