Cameron Meredith

Saints’ Cameron Meredith Done For Year

Saints wide receiver Cameron Meredith will be placed on injured reserve with a knee injury, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The injury helps to explain the club’s signing of Dez Bryant, which will be formally completed on Thursday. 

Meredith is no stranger to the IR list after tearing his ACL and MCL before the 2017 season. This time around, the knee injury is not believed to be as serious, but it’s enough to rule him out for the year.

Meredith has not been involved in the Saints’ offense outside of Weeks 3-5, though he’s dressed for the last few weeks. When he was on the field, Meredith had nine catches for 114 yards and a touchdown.

The 26-year-old’s injury opened the door for rookie Tre’Quan Smith, who has flashed some serious potential. Smith figures to play a big role on Sunday behind Michael Thomas since Bryant is not a lock to suit up against the Bengals, but the power balance may shift towards the veteran later in the year.

The Saints are left with four healthy wide receivers after losing Meredith and adding Bryant, so another signing is possible.

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NFC Notes: 49ers, Barwin, Beckwith, Saints

Despite Jimmy Garoppolo entering his 49ers training camp, he’s not expected to receive an abnormal workload this preseason. Even though Kyle Shanahan has cited the time it takes for quarterbacks to become sufficiently assimilated in his system, Matt Barrows of The Athletic notes (subscription required) backup C.J. Beathard is likely to receive most of the reps during preseason games. The 49ers figure to have an ulterior motive by doing this, with Barrows writing San Francisco will want to trade Beathard for draft compensation at some point before his rookie contract expires. They will be intent on showcasing the 2017 third-rounder as much as possible as a result. The Iowa product completed 54.9 percent of his passes, with four TDs and six INTs, as a rookie before Garoppolo supplanted him as the Niners’ starter.

It’s camp-reporting week. Here’s the NFC’s latest:

  • Connor Barwin will be counted on to be one of Olivier Vernon‘s sidekicks this season, but his Giants agreement is not merely a one-year pact. Barwin agreed to a two-year deal worth up to $5MM, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). This will be Barwin’s fourth NFL team, with the Giants following the Texans, Eagles and Rams. A Pro Bowler with the 2014 Eagles, Barwin’s done his best work in 3-4 defenses — which the Giants will now use. Both of Barwin’s double-digit sack seasons (2011 and 2014) came in this set.
  • Chris Thompson said Monday he will avoid the Redskins‘ PUP list. Washington’s passing-down back broke one of his fibulas in November but has worked his way back. He’s expected to remain the Redskins’ receiving back. “I’m feeling pretty good right now,” Thompson said during a Sirius XM Radio interview (via PFT). “I will start practicing with the guys from Day 1 but just taking it slowly. The focus is to really be ready by that first regular-season game.”
  • Kendell Beckwith will not, however, avoid the Buccaneers‘ PUP (Twitter link, via Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com). The young linebacker fractured an ankle in a car accident in April and underwent surgery. The immediate timetable tabbed Beckwith as unclear for Week 1, while a summer update indicated he might be ready in time for camp. Beckwith won’t meet that goal, it appears, but it’s not certain if he’s going to miss all of Tampa Bay’s camp.
  • Despite being a newcomer and coming off an ACL tear, Cameron Meredith looks like the frontrunner to claim the Saints‘ No. 2 wide receiver job, Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com notes. Playing with quarterbacks who aren’t in Drew Brees‘ stratosphere, Meredith caught 66 passes for 888 yards and four TDs in 2016. Third-round rookie Tre’Quan Smith may also be a threat to diminish Ted Ginn and Brandon Coleman‘s playing time as well, per Katzenstein, though it’s hard to envision Ginn (53 receptions, 787 receiving yards last season) being squeezed out of a significant role. He’s owed $4.5MM this season.

Cameron Meredith Ahead Of Schedule

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.

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NFC Notes: Meredith, Janikowski, Cowboys, Griffen

Newly-signed Saints wide receiver Cameron Meredith may be able to partially participate in the team’s minicamp, Sean Payton said to Joel A. Erickson of The Advocate.

The Saints signed Meridith to a two-year offer sheet worth $9.6 MM ($5.4MM in guarantees) earlier this month after spending the first three seasons of his career with the Bears. The 25-year-old former undrafted free agent missed the entire 2017 regular season due to a torn ACL. There were indications that his knee injury might take longer to heal than expected, which played into the Bears’ decision to not match the Saints’ offer sheet.

Saints coach Sean Payton seemed content with the team’s decision to pick up Meridith and his rehab from the injury.

“We feel like he’s a guy that’s on pace with his rehab, we feel comfortable with the diagnosis,” Payton said, via Erickson. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see him getting some work in our minicamp, based on our report.”

Meridith was set to enter the 2017 season as a starter in the Bears’ receiving corps. He’s currently projected to serve as the Saints’ No. 3 wideout behind Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn Jr [via Roster Resource].

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • Sebastian Janikowski‘s one-year contract with the Seahawks is for one year and $2.015MM, according to a source who spoke with Brady Henderson of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The deal includes a $1.015MM base salary, a $600K signing bonus, a $100K bonus if he’s on the 53-man roster in Week 1, and $300K in per-game active roster bonuses.
  • The Dallas Police continue to investigate Cowboys defensive lineman David Irving following domestic violence allegations levied against him earlier this week, per the Dallas Morning News. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones also responded to the allegations Tuesday during the team’s pre-draft news conference. “We’re getting the information today, and we’ll continue to gather it,” Jones said, via the Dallas Morning News. “And we’ll see where that comes out. The authorities are really doing the legwork, which I’m all for. We’ll let that get resolved as far as the facts.”
  • Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen told Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (on Twitter) that he tore his Plantar Fascia ligament in Week 8 last season, electing to play through it for the rest of the year. Griffen appeared in 15 games last season, along with the team’s two postseason contests. “It’s doing great (now),” Griffen said, via Tomasson. “I feel good. I’m excited to be back here.’

Zach Links also contributed to this report 

Saints Rumors: Meredith, Coleman, Snead

Now that Cameron Meredith is in the fold with the Saints, he still must complete a lengthy rehab process. The wide receiver saw his 2017 season erased because of ACL and MCL tears in his left knee, and he’s not planning to partake in New Orleans’ offseason program. Meredith’s goal is to return by training camp.

I see myself being 100 percent for at least the season,” Meredith said during a radio interview on ESPN Chicago (via The Advocate’s Nick Underhill). “Training camp is my goal, and I don’t see any reason why I can’t accomplish that. I haven’t had any setbacks. I don’t think anyone had that as a major concern.”

Meredith received multiple offers in restricted free agency, so multiple medical staffs gave teams the go-ahead here. The now-25-year-old wideout fared well for the 2016 Bears, posting 888 receiving yards and four touchdowns. He’ll walk into what’s been the league’s most consistently productive aerial attack over the past 12 seasons and is in line to serve as an auxiliary option for Drew Brees.

Here’s the latest out of New Orleans.

  • Meredith opted for the Saints in part because they have former Bears wide receivers coach Curtis Johnson on staff. Now in his second stint as Saints wideouts instructor, Johnson served as the Bears’ WRs coach in 2016 before moving on to New Orleans last year. “C.J. was a big part of my success in Chicago,” Meredith said Friday, via Amos Morale III of NOLA.com. “And getting to rejoin him in New Orleans… (we’ll) get back right were we left off.”
  • The Meredith deal likely impacts other recent Brees weapons. A supporting-cast cog with the Saints the past three seasons, Brandon Coleman is now unlikely to return to the Saints and will have to find a gig elsewhere, Larry Holder of NOLA.com notes. New Orleans did not tender Coleman, now a UFA, but did offer an original-round tender to Willie Snead. A more consistent producer than Meredith after two 890-plus-yard seasons with the Saints, Snead saw his production dip dramatically last season (eight catches, 92 yards). Negotiating an extension last offseason, Snead has instead seen his stock drop. He worked out for the Ravens, who preferred Meredith, but has not been connected to another team yet in free agency. He has until April 20 to sign another team’s offer sheet. Holder wonders if the Saints retract their original-round tender ($1.9MM) now that Meredith’s under contract.
  • The Saints signed offensive lineman Gabe Ikard to a reserve/futures contract in January, but Ikard has opted to retire, per Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com. Ikard finished last season on the Saints’ practice squad. He last played in two games for the Bills in 2016. The 27-year-old Oklahoma alum is now hosting a drive-time radio show in Oklahoma City.
  • Andrus Peat is now under Saints control through the 2019 season. The team exercised the three-year starter’s fifth-year option.

Saints To Sign Cameron Meredith

The Bears have chosen to not match Cameron Meredith‘s offer sheet with the Saints, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Meredith will now join Drew Brees & Co. in New Orleans on a two-year deal.

The Saints inked the restricted free agent to an offer sheet late last week, which triggered a five-day window for the Bears to match. Because Meredith was tendered at the lowest level, the Bears will not receive draft pick compensation.

The Bears, apparently, were skittish about Meredith’s medical situation. The receiver is coming off of a torn ACL and MCL, so there is a bit of risk in the signing for the Saints. However, if he is healthy, this will likely prove to be a brilliant value add for New Orleans.

The Saints now project to start Mike Thomas, Ted Ginn Jr., and Meredith at wide receiver. With Mark Ingram in the backfield, tight end stands as the Saints’ last major need at a skill position. Currently, the Saints have Josh Hill, Coby Fleener, Benjamin Watson, and Michael Hoomanawanui in their TE group. None of those players offer the same upside as, say, Jimmy Graham, whom the Saints tried to sign in March.

The presence of Saints wide receivers coach Curtis Johnson played a big role in Meredith’s relocation to Louisiana. Johnson worked with Meredith in Chicago and fought for him to make the Bears’ final cut in the summer of 2016. Meredith rewarded his confidence by catching 66 passes for 888 yards in just ten starts.

Meredith will now play on a two-year $9.6MM deal with $5.4MM guaranteed. With incentives, the deal could be worth as much as $12.6MM.

[RELATED: Saints Depth Chart]

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Contract Details: Meredith, Matthews, Smith

Here’s a look at the details of some recent free agent deals:

  • Cameron Meredith‘s two-year, $9.6MM Saints offer sheet can be worth up to $12.6MM, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports. There are $5.4MM in total guarantees. The Bears have not determined if they will match or not.
  • Jordan Matthews‘ rough year with the Bills may have cost him. The former productive Eagles slot receiver signed with the Patriots for one year and $1MM, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. While $700K is available via incentives, this is a team-friendly deal — one that only includes $170K guaranteed.
  • Bennie Logan‘s Titans deal is for one year and worth $4MM in base value, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Incentives can escalate Logan’s haul to $5MM.
  • The ChargersGeno Smith contract is worth $1MM over one year, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com tweets. This comes with a $200K signing bonus.

Ravens Made Offer To Cam Meredtih

The Ravens have made a concerted effort to revamp their receiving corps this offseason, and to that end, they extended an offer to Bears’ restricted free agent Cameron Meredith, per Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. Meredith, however, ultimately decided to sign an offer sheet with the Saints, and Chicago has until Wednesday to either match the offer sheet or let Meredith depart for New Orleans without receiving any draft compensation.

The offer sheet is a two-year, $9.6MM pact ($5.4MM guaranteed), and while Hensley does not give the specifics of Baltimore’s offer, he does indicate that the Ravens’ small amount of cap room limited their ability to potentially bring Meredith into the fold. The Ravens’ salary cap situation also kept them out of the market for the top free agent wideouts this offseason, though the team has done well to acquire Michael Crabtree and John Brown.

Meredith would have been a nice complement to Crabtree and Brown, and we heard at the end of last month that Baltimore was higher on Meredith than other players the team has recently brought in for a visit (Willie Snead and Michael Floyd). But Snead, a restricted free agent of the Saints, would represent a solid option as a slot receiver, and the Ravens may ultimately circle back to him. After all, he will probably cost less than Meredith, and it seems unlikely that New Orleans would match an offer sheet (particularly if the Saints wind up with Meredith).

Even if they do acquire another receiver like Snead in free agency, the Ravens should target a WR and a pass-catching TE in the early rounds of the draft.

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Morning Notes: Bennett, Meredith, Giants, Pats

New Eagles defensive end Michael Bennett was indicted on the felony charge of injury to the elderly, but the player’s lawyer says the true story will soon be heard.

“There was no fighting, there was no pushing,” Rusty Hardin told Zack Rosenblatt of NJ.com. “The entire thing is ludicrous. That’s what I think we’ll find when it’s all over.”

The charge is punishable by up to ten years in prison and/or a $10K fine, and Bennett turned himself in to authorities in late March. The 32-year-old is accused of injuring an elderly paraplegic woman who was working at Super Bowl LI in 2017. Despite the allegations, Bennett and Hardin aren’t worried about the potential consequences.

“He knows he didn’t do this,” Hardin said. “He’s assuming the system will ultimately conclude that once they get all the information. But it’s obviously a very embarrassing and humiliating thing to go through, walking out of a court room with a bunch of TV cameras and in handcuffs, particularly for something you didn’t even do.”

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFL…

  • The Saints signed Bears restricted free agent wide receiver Cameron Meredith to an offer sheet yesterday, and Nick Underhill of The Advocate wonders (via Twitter) if Chicago will ultimately match the offer. New Orleans offered a two-year deal worth $9.6MM, meaning the Bears would be comitting close to $30MM to receivers in 2018. On the flip side, Underhill opines that the Bears could be okay with spending that kind of money at the position, and they could just let someone like Kevin White sign elsewhere next offseason.
  • The Giants have set up a top-30 visit with running back Rashaad Penny, reports Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com (via Twitter). The San Diego State product is currently listed 47th on NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah’s listing of the top-50 prospects. Penny compiled 2,248 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns during his senior season.
  • ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss could see the Patriots going in a variety of different directions with their first-round picks. The reporter points to linebacker, left tackle, quarterback, running back and/or tight end as potential targets for New England. When asked about the prospects of adding tight ends Dallas Goedert or Hayden Hurst, Reiss notes that the organization hasn’t shied away from previously spending a first-rounder on the position.

Saints Sign Cam Meredith To Offer Sheet

The Saints are signing Bears restricted free agent wide receiver Cameron Meredith to an offer sheet, a source tells ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). The Bears will have an opportunity to match, but they will not receive draft compensation if they decline to do so.

The offer sheet is a two-year deal worth $9.6MM ($5.4MM guaranteed), plus incentives, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Considering that the Bears declined to use the second-round tender – a one-year, $2.914MM placeholder – it seems unlikely that the Bears will match.

The Saints have a clear need for WR help given their lack of quality options behind starters Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn Jr. The Saints tendered Willie Snead at the original round level, but he is coming off of a down season and can’t be relied upon even if he is retained. Meredith could replace Snead as the Saints’ slot receiver and provide support alongside Tommylee Lewis, Austin Carr, and Paul Turner.

Meredith, 26 in September, is coming off a torn ACL which cost him all of the 2017 season. In 2016, he caught 66 passes for 888 yards in just ten starts.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.