Cameron Meredith, who entered this offseason as a restricted free agent, provided a rather interesting case study. The Bears signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Illinois State in 2015, and he showed enough during training camp and preseason that year to stick on Chicago’s roster. Although he recorded just 11 receptions in 2015, he exploded in 2016, posting 66 catches for 888 yards and four touchdowns. His physical gifts were beginning to translate to on-field production, and he entered 2017 looking to cement himself as the Bears’ No. 1 WR and one of the better wideouts in the league.
Unfortunately, he tore his ACL and MCL last preseason, so he entered restricted free agency as a player with tantalizing athleticism and measurables (6-3, 207), but also a major medical red flag and a UDFA pedigree. Plus, his route running is not yet as refined as it needs to be for him to truly take the next step.
However, he drew significant interest from both the Saints and Ravens — he also visited with the Colts — before choosing to sign an offer sheet with New Orleans. The Bears were reportedly too wary of Meredith’s medicals to match the offer, so Meredith became a Saint, and the early returns are promising.
Head coach Sean Payton said Meredith is “way ahead of schedule” in his recovery (via Amos Morale III of the Times-Picayune). Although the 25-year-old receiver is not participating in team drills every day just yet. Payton said, “Just watching him move around and, you guys saw him, he’s way ahead of schedule. And certainly where our doctor our doctors had hoped and even better. So, he’s going to factor in this year. He’s a player that we’ve got a real clear vision for.”
Meredith could be a force in the slot in 2018, with Ted Ginn and Michael Thomas currently expected to operate outside the numbers. His contract with New Orleans is a two-year, $9.6MM pact, so he could also represent a major bargain for the Saints if he remains healthy.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.