The Bears on Wednesday declined to match the offer sheet that restricted free agent wide receiver Cameron Meredith signed with the New Orleans Saints and will instead go in a different direction at the position.
Meredith signed a two-year, roughly $10 million offer sheet with the Saints on Friday and the Bears had five days to decide to match it in order to retain the rights to their receiver.
Just hours before the deadline on Wednesday, general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy reportedly met with Meredith to inform him that they were not going to match the offer.
Meredith joined the Bears as an undrafted free agent in 2015 out of Illinois State. He caught just 11 passes his first season before blossoming into a reliable target in 2016, when he hauled in 66 balls for 888 yards and 4 touchdowns. Meredith was expected to be the Bears’ No. 1 receiver last year before tearing his ACL in the preseason and missing all of 2017.
The Bears spent heavily this offseason to upgrade the receiver position by bringing in veterans Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel. But there remains work to be done at the position, as Kevin White remains an unreliable option given his rich injury history.
Weary of White’s recurring injuries, the Bears likely shied away from Meredith for that very reason. However, given that Robinson, too, is coming off an ACL injury in 2017, Meredith’s injury couldn’t have been the only factor in the Bears’ decision not retain him.
Look for the Bears to continue to address the position either through the upcoming draft or after cutdown day when certain veterans become expendable. Last season, the Bears brought a trio of veteran receivers into camp on “prove-it” deals in Victor Cruz, Kendall Wright, and Markus Wheaton.