Bears Fans Need to Relax Regarding Cameron Meredith

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 11: Cameron Meredith
DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 11: Cameron Meredith /

Bears fans are too up in arms about Cameron Meredith’s visits to other teams.

Cameron Meredith has become a favorite of Chicago Bears’ fans. After his breakout season in 2016, Bears fans saw something special with the young wide receiver and were hopeful for big things. Meredith missed all of 2017 with a serious knee injury, but he seems to be progressing well and is hoping that 2018 will be a big season for him.

More from Bear Goggles On

Bears fans certainly want that big 2018 season to be in a Bears’ uniform, but several seem to be quite panicked that Meredith is ready to walk. Meredith is a restricted free agent. The Bears tendered Meredith but used the original round tender, rather than the upgrade to the second round tender.

What the original round tender means is that if Meredith signs an offer sheet with another team and the Bears choose not to match, Meredith walks and the Bears don’t receive any compensation for him (because he was undrafted). Had the Bears given him a second-round tender, any team that signs Meredith would be forced to send their second-round pick in 2018 to the Bears in return for Meredith’s services.

The second-round tender means the Bears would have had to offer Meredith an additional $1 million in salary, so it seems like a no-brainer to offer Meredith the second round tender, but Pace chose to give him an original round tender. Why would Pace do this? Does he want Meredith to leave? Is he daft? No. Actually, the move is quite brilliant.

Pace is doing something that he did with Kyle Fuller and he’s now doing with Cameron Meredith and potentially Bryce Callahan. He’s letting the market set their contracts.

Let’s play it out the other way. Let’s say Meredith receives a second-round tender. That guarantees that no team is going to offer Meredith any type of contract. Coming off a major knee injury, no team is going to forfeit their second-round pick to sign Meredith despite his risky health. Meredith would be a lock to return to the Bears on his 1-year deal and play out 2018.

But what happens if Meredith plays in 2018 like the Bears and Bears fans think he can? Meredith now enters 2019 as an unrestricted free agent. He will have proven to the league that he’s healthy again and being a young receiver coming off a solid season, the offers are going to flow, and they are going to be pricey. There would be a very real possibility that the Bears would lose Meredith after this season thanks to the second-round tender.

But let’s examine the calculated risk that Pace has done with Meredith. Meredith is now shopping his services to the rest of the league. While that may make a fan or two nervous, just remember, the Bears can match any offer to Meredith. Ryan Pace wants Meredith to set his market. Pace wants Meredith to sign an offer sheet. Pace would be thrilled if Meredith gets a 3-year offer. The yearly average salary that Meredith would get in a contract this year, coming off the injury, would be far less (and far less guaranteed money) than it would be coming off next season’s potentially strong showing.

The Bears are using the original round tender to entice a team to sign Meredith to an offer sheet in hopes they can match and control Meredith for multiple seasons before worrying about having to pony up significant cash.

The Bears did the same thing with Kyle Fuller. They used the transition tag so Fuller could go out there and set his market. He did just that signing an offer sheet with the Green Bay Packers and Ryan Pace matched the offer within two hours. Expect the same response with Meredith.

Bears fans never seem to be happy unless they have something to complain about. Their favorite past-time has become dogging Ryan Pace. But moves like this are a great sign to the fans that are paying attention that Pace is manipulating the salary cap superbly and keeping his young core of players together for multiple seasons.