Knee issues stopped Cameron Meredith from contributing much to the 2018 campaign, but he’s already helping out next season.
The wide receiver, who played in just six games due to knee issues, agreed to a pay cut that trims his base salary and frees up cap space, according to a report from ESPN’s Field Yates.
The new deal reduces his base salary form $3.4 million to $1.3 million.
The Saints signed the former Chicago Bears player to a two-year, $9.6 million deal last offseason. The Bears chose not to match the offer for Meredith, a restricted free agent, who was recovering from a torn ACL the season before.
Meredith contributed nine catches for 114 yards over the six games he played in 2018. He was placed on injured reserve after the Saints signed veteran Dez Bryant, who tore his Achilles shortly after.
Despite the continued knee issues, Payton gave an optimistic outlook for Meredith at the time.
“It’s not bad news,” Payton said. “He’s going to have a full recovery.”
It’s the second cash-saving measure for the upcoming year by the Saints this offseason. The team restructured Drew Brees contract last week, which opened up $10.8 million in cap space this season, pushing a portion of dead money to 2020.
The moves come as the Saints continue to be active in free agency. Since restructuring Brees’ deal, the team has inked Teddy Bridgewater to a one-year deal for $7.25 million and center Nick Easton to a 4-year, $24 million deal to replace retired Max Unger.
They’ve also hosted tight end Jared Cook and pass-rusher Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah on visits. The Saints are nearing a deal with the 31-year-old Cook, according to a report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Cook is coming off his best statistical season of his career, catching 68 passes for 896 yards and six touchdowns with the Oakland Raiders. He’s also played with the Tennessee Titans, St. Louis Rams and Green Bay Packers in his 10-year career.
The Saints have also signed defensive tackle Malcom Brown, running back Latavius Murray, and they inked kicker Wil Lutz to a new 5-year deal. They signed linebacker Craig Robertson and safety Chris Banjo, both key special teams contributors, to contract extensions.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Cameron Meredith (knee) will be placed on Injured Reserve and will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his knee, according to head coach Sean Payton. Meredith will have a “clean-up” surgery on the knee because he had been fighting through swelling each week. Payton said the wideout is expected to make a “full recovery.” He missed the entire 2017 season with the Bears after he tore his left ACL during the preseason. Meredith had zero targets in the last three games for the Saints. His injury partially explains why the Saints signed Dez Bryant this week. Meredith will finish the year with nine catches for 114 yards and a touchdown. While Bryant has the opportunity to become the No. 3 wideout in New Orleans with both Meredith and Ginn on IR, it’s not even a lock that he’ll play in Week 10 against the Bengals after signing on Wednesday. Bryant has WR3 upside to close out there year, but he’ll be a risk/reward fantasy commodity after a long layoff from playing.
Field Yates of ESPN reported the news Tuesday, noting the Chicago Bears still have the ability to match any offer Meredith receives as a restricted free agent. Meredith is only 25 years old and has flashed his potential in the past, but he missed the 2017 campaign after tearing his ACL in the preseason.
Meredith led the Bears with 66 catches for 888 yards and four touchdowns in 2016, proving to be a dangerous target at 6’3″ who can beat plenty of defensive backs.
Chicago struggled in the aerial attack without him in 2017, ranking dead last in the league in receiving yardage as rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky became accustomed to the NFL game with a depleted pass-catching group.
There would still figure to be room for a talent like Meredith’s, though, especially after he was one of the team’s bright spots in 2016.
As for Indianapolis, it was a mere 30th in the league in receiving yards in 2017. While that can largely be explained by the absence of quarterback Andrew Luck, a T.Y. Hilton and Meredith combination would be daunting to opposing secondaries.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Cameron Meredith could miss the rest of the season. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Saints will place Meredith on injured reserve, and he will undergo arthroscopic knee surgery.
Schefter noted Meredith’s injury is one of the reasons why New Orleans signed Dez Bryant to a one-year deal Wednesday.
Under NFL rules, teams are allowed to bring back two players off injured reserve after they spend at least eight weeks on the inactive list. Meredith won’t be eligible to return until the playoffs.
An undrafted free agent out of Illinois State in 2015, Meredith spent the first three years of his career with the Chicago Bears. However, he tore his ACL in the third preseason game of 2017 and missed the whole season. He then signed a two-year, $9.6 million offer sheet with the Saints in April 2018, which the Bears declined to match.
Cameron Meredith burst onto the fantasy football scene in 2016. Injuries to Kevin White and Alshon Jeffery bumped him up the depth chart to WR2 and even WR1 for a few weeks. Two years later, he is on a new team looking to prove himself once again. The New Orleans Saints signed him to a two year, $9.5 million contract this offseason after the Chicago Bears declined to match that offer. Meredith missed the 2017 season because of a torn ACL and MCL, but he has since made a full recovery and has been practicing with seemingly no restrictions in training camp so far.
The role planned for Meredith is relatively clear with Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram, Ted Ginn, and Brandon Coleman all returning for the 2018 season. The Saints also invested a 3rd round pick in wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith. The Saints have options on offense and will likely decide to continue to use players in specialized roles. Meredith will be the slot receiver. Thomas will retain his spot as the WR1, while Ginn and Smith will compete for playing time as a deep threat on the other boundary. Meredith will essentially be replacing the role held by Willie Snead in 2016. That role was replaced by a committee in 2017 after a suspension and injuries derailed Willie Snead’s season.
The Saints offense does look incredibly crowded. This is still a good situation to buy into because the Saints have historically done well producing multiple fantasy relevant players every season. It isn’t unrealistic to believe that Meredith will be the 3rd receiving option in the Saints offense behind Thomas and Kamara. At worst, Meredith will compete with Ginn for the WR2 share of targets in the offense.
Meredith has an average ADP of about 150 and is roughly viewed as a WR5 in most drafts. To meet the expectations of that draft position, based on last year’s scoring, you would need 120-130 points out of Meredith in a standard scoring PPR league. Anything above that would be considered extra value. Let me explain why I believe that he will exceed those expectations this year.
In 2016, Meredith recorded 66 catches for 888 yards and four touchdowns in just 14 games. This came with Jay Cutler, Brian Hoyer, and Matt Barkley throwing him the ball. Meredith’s 2016 campaign would have been the equivalent of a very solid WR3 last season. With Drew Brees now throwing him the ball, Meredith will be due for another impressive season if he can maintain the same level of performance that he showed in 2016.