It’s fairly rare to see NFL teams make an aggressive attempt to sign away another team’s restricted free agent. I’d say there might be unspoken gentleman’s agreement in play with that, but we all know the NFL wouldn’t do that.
The Chicago Bears have to wonder why everyone is trying to get their restricted players. The Bears had to match an offer sheet to Kyle Fuller, who was on the transition tag, after the Green Bay Packers tried to sign him. Then on Friday the New Orleans Saints signed restricted free agent receiver Cam Meredith to an offer sheet. ESPN’s Adam Schefter said the offer is for about $10 million over two years. The Bears have five days to match.
A pair of decisions led to the Bears having to match other offers. Chicago didn’t exercise the fifth-year option on Fuller’s rookie deal. When he played well last season, he became a commodity on the free-agent market. With Meredith, the Bears chose to offer Meredith the original-round tender, and since Meredith was undrafted the Bears won’t receive any compensation if they don’t match. The Bears could have offered a second-round tender on Meredith, which would have cost about $1 million more than his $1.907 original-round tender according to the Chicago Sun-Times. If the Bears match the offer to Meredith, that’s a pretty big financial mistake by general manager Ryan Pace.
Meredith had 888 yards in his second season with the Bears and looked like an up-and-coming player for them. Then he tore his ACL last preseason. The Bears went through a lot of effort to improve their receiving corps this offseason, adding Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel as well as tight end Trey Burton, which makes it curious why they wouldn’t give the second-round tender to Meredith to practically ensure they’d retain him.
It’s easy to see why the Saints would be interested in Meredith. He’d help their depth at receiver, especially if they lose Willie Snead. Snead is also a restricted free agent on a low tender. Now they wait to see if the Bears match their offer.
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