Bennie Fowler does NOT replace Cameron Meredith

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 24: Cameron Meredith
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 24: Cameron Meredith /

The Bears have added a wide receiver to the roster in the person of Bennie Fowler, but that doesn’t mean they’ve replaced Cameron Meredith.

The Chicago Bears made an under-the-radar move over the weekend when they signed former Denver Broncos wide receiver Bennie Fowler to a contract. After the departure of Cameron Meredith to the New Orleans Saints, the Bears wide receiving corps was lacking in depth and the addition of Fowler helps in that department.

More from Bear Goggles On

Many of the ardent Ryan Pace supporters immediately jump to the “See, Pace had a plan, he signed Fowler to replace Meredith!” That simply is a false statement. He signed Fowler to replace Meredith’s roster spot, but he did not sign Fowler to replace Meredith, there’s a distinct difference.

Fowler is a nice depth piece. He was a UDFA in 2014 and spent his first season on the practice squad. He has spent the past three seasons on the Broncos’ active roster and steadily improved. 2017 was his best season. Fowler had 29 catches for 350 yards and three touchdowns.

Fowler was signed for depth. He will most likely compete for the Bears’ WR4 position with Kevin White. If Fowler does make the roster, he will be slotted as the Bears WR4 or WR5 spot. That means he’ll play some special teams and provide some depth. If the Bears have another injury-plagued season, Fowler could be catapulted into a key role, but otherwise, the Bears have signed him as a complimentary piece that they don’t expect to garner many offensive snaps throughout the course of the year.

While that was something the Bears roster needed, it doesn’t replace what Meredith could have been. The Bears are adamant that they feel that Meredith’s knee is shot and because of that, Meredith could not be counted on as a contributor in 2018. If that’s the case, the Bears shouldn’t have even tendered him in the first place.

But the Bears did tender him because they knew that if Meredith proved himself healthy, he would have been the WR2 (behind Allen Robinson) on this team, or no lower than the WR3 (with Tayor Gabriel on the outside and Meredith in the slot). That means a healthy Meredith would have been on the field for a significant amount of time and seen a significant amount of targets.

If Meredith was on the roster, the Bears would have still been looking for a wide receiver in the later rounds of the draft to fill the Fowler role as the WR4/WR5. With Meredith gone and Fowler now on the roster, the Bears will most likely spend a higher pick on a wide receiver that they feel can still fill the role of WR3.

On the surface, it may look like Fowler has replaced Meredith. But when you examine the roles of the wide receiving corps and what the team still needs, it becomes pretty obvious pretty quickly that Fowler may have taken Meredith’s roster spot, but by no means did he replace Meredith’s productivity potential.