The Bears have decided against matching the contract offer for Cameron Meredith, and I’m interested to see what he might do in New Orleans. He seemed to be headed for big things before injuring his knee in Tennessee last August.
Meredith, as refresher, is the 6-foot-3, 207-pound receiver the Bears signed as an undrafted free agent back in 2016. He began as a quarterback at Illinois State (a skill Chicago tapped into in Week 17 his rookie season, when he threw a touchdown on a gadget play).
Meredith showed enough in training camp that the Bears kept him on their roster, and they moved him into a starting role a month into the 2016 season. From that point on, he put up top-20 receiving numbers, averaging 5 catches and 70 yards in the final 12 games, with 4 TD catches and the aforementioned 2-yard touchdown pass.
So for fantasy purposes, he grades out as the 17th-best receiver from 2016 when compared per-game to the other wide receivers starting at least half the season.
|TOP 40 PER-GAME RECEIVERS, 2016|
|Antonio Brown, Pitt.||15||7.1||85.6||.80||13.4|
|Jordy Nelson, G.B.||16||6.1||78.6||.88||13.1|
|Mike Evans, T.B.||16||6.0||82.6||.79||13.0|
|Julio Jones, Atl.||14||5.9||100.6||.43||12.6|
|Odell Beckham, NYG||16||6.3||85.4||.63||12.4|
|Tyreek Hill, K.C.||9||4.7||41.1||.89||12.1|
|A.J. Green, Cin.||10||6.6||96.4||.40||12.0|
|Taylor Gabriel, Atl.||8||3.4||59.0||.88||11.8|
|T.Y. Hilton, Ind.||16||5.7||90.5||.40||11.4|
|Michael Thomas, N.O.||15||6.1||75.8||.60||11.2|
|Davante Adams, G.B.||16||4.7||62.3||.77||10.9|
|Brandin Cooks, N.O.||16||4.9||73.3||.50||10.5|
|Dez Bryant, Dall.||13||3.8||61.2||.67||10.1|
|J.J. Nelson, Ariz.||10||3.0||51.7||.70||10.0|
|Doug Baldwin, Sea.||16||5.9||70.5||.48||9.9|
|Michael Crabtree, Oak.||16||5.6||62.7||.52||9.4|
|Cameron Meredith, Chi.||12||5.0||69.7||.39||9.4|
|Amari Cooper, Oak.||16||5.2||72.1||.35||9.3|
|Rishard Matthews, Ten.||16||4.1||59.1||.56||9.3|
|Tyrell Williams, S.D.||16||4.3||66.2||.44||9.2|
|Jarvis Landry, Mia.||16||5.9||71.0||.27||8.8|
|Demaryius Thomas, Den.||16||5.6||67.7||.33||8.8|
|Kenny Britt, L.A.||15||4.5||66.8||.33||8.7|
|Larry Fitzgerald, Ariz.||16||6.7||63.9||.38||8.7|
|Julian Edelman, N.E.||16||6.1||69.1||.21||8.5|
|Kelvin Benjamin, Car.||16||3.9||58.8||.44||8.5|
|Terrelle Pryor, Cle.||16||4.8||62.9||.33||8.4|
|Stefon Diggs, Min.||13||6.5||69.5||.23||8.4|
|Golden Tate, Det.||16||5.7||67.3||.27||8.4|
|Emmanuel Sanders, Den.||16||4.9||64.5||.31||8.4|
|DeSean Jackson, Was.||15||3.7||67.0||.27||8.3|
|Jamison Crowder, Was.||16||4.2||52.9||.50||8.3|
|Mike Wallace, Balt.||16||4.5||63.6||.27||8.2|
|Steve Smith Sr., Balt.||14||5.0||57.1||.41||8.1|
|Donte Moncrief, Ind.||9||3.3||34.1||.78||8.1|
|Adam Thielen, Min.||16||4.3||60.4||.31||8.0|
|Kenny Stills, Mia.||16||2.6||45.4||.56||7.9|
|Allen Robinson, Jac.||16||4.6||55.2||.40||7.9|
|Alshon Jeffery, Chi.||12||4.3||68.4||.17||7.8|
|Willie Snead, N.O.||15||4.8||59.7||.31||7.8|
While that was a lesser Chicago team, they did chuck it around a lot, averaging 259 passing yards per game (15th). And Meredith was streaky, with four games with 9-11 catches. He caught only 22 passes in his other eight games.
Meredith caught 68 percent of the passes thrown his way, which is very solid, and he averaged 9.2 yards per pass play. Of the 92 other wide receivers with at least 50 targets, only 10 were statistically more effective.
Now the Saints have him for $10 million for two years. That’s no very much. The Dolphins signed 32-year-old Danny Amendola to a two-year deal worth $12 million and Albert Wilson to a three-year contract worth $24 million. The Bears themselves signed Taylor Gabriel, who struggled last year, to a four-year contract worth $26 million, with over half of that guaranteed.
My worry here is that with Chicago choosing not to make a relatively mild contract, that might be an indication that their doctors don’t feel he’ll be quite the same after that ugly injury last year against the Titans.
But if Meredith is healthy, Drew Brees and Sean Payton might make him look very good. They’ve got Michael Thomas, who’ll probably catch about 100 passes, but there’s room for another pass-catching threat in that offense. Ted Ginn is a good deep threat, but he’s an older guy they don’t want to overwork. Brandon Coleman is very big but very slow; he played a lot last year without making much of an impact (23 catches for 364 yards and 3 TDs). And I don’t think they’re re-signing Willie Snead, who fell out of favor last year.
I will be very interested to see what Meredith looks like in the early preseason games (and how much he’s working with the first-unit offense).