The Chicago Bears have a decision to make regarding the future of wide receiver Cameron Meredith. What that decision will be remains to be seen, but at least the team still has the financial flexibility to match the offer sheet he signed with the New Orleans Saints and still fit comfortably within their current cap situation.
Here’s a look, via Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic:
A few 2018 Bears base salaries for those of you keeping score at home (per NFLPA)
Earl Watford: $950,000
Benny Cunningham: $800,000
Marcus Cooper: $900,000
Patrick Scales: $630,000
Bears with ~$24 million in cap room
— Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain) April 6, 2018
- Bob LeGere of Pro Football Weekly writes the Bears can’t afford not to match the Saints’ offer sheet for Meredith. Sure, Chicago will have to pay nearly the double the guarantee of what the restricted free agent tender would have cost. But a $5.4 million guarantee on a contract that will pay a receiver who caught 66 passes for 888 yards the last time he was healthy isn’t a steep price in the grand scheme of things. The offer sheet signed shouldn’t be prohibitive and the Bears aren’t in a position where they can let good, young talent walk away for nothing.
- The good news is that this should be an old hat for GM Ryan Pace, who encountered a similar hurdle when the Green Bay Packers signed cornerback Kyle Fuller to a deal on the transition tag. Just like when the Bears issued the little-used transition tag on Fuller, the team did right by Meredith in placing the low-round tender and allowing the player to explore the market and get a sense for his value. If history repeats itself, Meredith will join Fuller as back in the fold in Chicago.
- Speaking of history repeating itself, the Saints know exactly what it’s like to have a team try to snag one of your restricted free agents:
Saints let RB Mike Bell walk as an RFA. Saints matched when the Bears tried to pluck TE Josh Hill as an RFA two years ago.
— Larry Holder (@LarryHolder) April 6, 2018
- I’ll say this about Pace, he has done a remarkable job of letting the market set the value on some key free agents. Once again, the Bears are in a position of strength when it comes to this Meredith deal. If the Bears retain him and he has another breakout season, the team will have another year of contract control on a player they like and the inside track on working out a long-term extension. If he doesn’t have that kind of year, then he still returns on an affordable deal.
- It’s almost as if the Bears didn’t place a second-round tender on Meredith for the same reasons they didn’t give Fuller the franchise tag – as to not discourage other teams from bringing him in, taking a look, and setting the market. It’s as if the Bears have a plan. Weird, I know.
- Peter Schrager of NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football” dubs the receiver group from the class of 2014 as possibly the best class of any position ever, which is quite the compliment. And frankly, you can’t blame Schrager for taking this stance. That group includes the game’s highest-paid receiver Mike Evans (Buccaneers), Odell Beckham Jr. (Giants … for now), one-time Bears free agent target Sammy Watkins (now with the Chiefs), Brandin Cooks (who was just dealt to the Los Angeles Rams), and Allen Robinson. Yep, the same Allen Robinson who was the Bears’ biggest free agent signing this offseason.
- Knowing that Mitch Trubisky is about to air it (in an offense he says he is built for) out to one of the best of the best warms my heart on a cold spring afternoon. Oh, you better believe they’re going to air it out. The Bears’ deep passing game can’t get any worse than it was last year.
- And throwing to these two will be fun, too:
— Taylor Gabriel (@TGdadon1) April 5, 2018
- Over at NBC Sports Chicago, JJ Stankevitz lines up the Bears’ defensive depth chart. It’s easy to look at that depth chart and come away feeling that there is some work to do and that the draft is the place to get it done. Vic Fangio’s group has the shell of a good NFL defense, but could still use some playmakers in the front seven and in the secondary to round out the group.
- LSU edge defender Arden Key is one of the most intriguing draft prospects, and that he plays a position of need makes him all the more interesting. PFW’s Eric Edholm writes Key – who was projected to be a top-10 pick when the college football season kicked off – is on the road to rebuilding his draft stock. It could be a tough road for the talented pass-rusher, as Edholm contacted two teams that have spoken with Key and reached out to a source in Baton Rouge to learn Key had left the program at one point to check into rehab for marijuana. In February 2017, LSU released a statement announcing Key was taking time away from football for personal reasons. While that doesn’t be the main concern for NFL teams, what might be more of an issue was that he lost contact with the program during his absence. It was announced in June that Key had shoulder surgery, which might be a bigger issue for evaluators. Key could be in play as a Round 2 selection for the Bears if they don’t land a pass-rusher with the eighth pick.
- Matt Nagy offered up some thoughts to wrap up Week 1 of the offseason training program while appearing on ESPN’s NFL Live. He was put on the hot seat early by host Dianna Russini, who asked which coach Nagy looked forward to beating the most. His answer shouldn’t surprise anyone:
Chicago Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy on who he wants to beat 👇🏼 pic.twitter.com/BNZI7lpGZJ
— Dianna Russini (@diannaESPN) April 6, 2018
- Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski takes the temperature of the hot seat (already? yep.) of every NFL coach, and it’s wonderful not to have the Bears’ coach tied to the hot seat or fighting off speculation of job security. It’s truly refreshing to keep our focuses on football, the draft, and the team’s upward trajectory. That Sobleski writes it wouldn’t be a surprise if Nagy leads the Bears into “instant contenders” is icing on the cake.
- Dave Toub didn’t get the head-coaching gig he probably was looking for this offseason. In fact, I can’t recall him going on any interviews despite the buzz his name brings annually. It’s not a total loss for the highly regarded special teams coach, who earned a new title in a promotion to Assistant Head Coach under Kansas City leader Andy Reid.
- Ya know, the Blackhawks could use a big, bad enforcer type:
— akiem hicks (@The_Dream99) April 6, 2018