Part 7 of a 10-part series previewing the NFL Draft and analyzing the Bears’ needs.

The Bears’ signing of free agent wideout Allen Robinson to three-year, $42 million contract almost certainly eliminated wide receiver as a first-round target in this year’s draft if they stay at No. 8. But after losing Cam Meredith in free agency, wide receiver still is likely a priority in the draft, and probably a high one.

The hole created by the loss of Meredith obviously is debatable. The former undrafted free agent from St. Joseph in Westchester and Illinois State was the Bears’ best receiver in 2016 when he had 66 receptions for 888 yards and four touchdowns. But he suffered a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee in the preseason last year and even Meredith couldn’t commit to when he would return to full participation.

If Bears general manager Ryan Pace was convinced that Meredith would immediately be the same receiver he was when he was injured, it’s likley he would have made the simple move to keep him — the second-round free agent tender that would have guaranteed Meredith $2.9 million in 2018. Instead he gave him the same-round tender at $1.9 million — which gave other teams a chance to sign Meredith without giving compensation to the Bears.

The Saints bit on that, signing Meredith to a two-year, $10 million contract that the Bears did not match. Knowing how easily he could have kept Meredith (the additional $1 million for the second-round tender is less than sixth-tenths of one percent of the salary cap), Pace obviously has concerns about just how productive Meredith can be in Matt Nagy’s offense coming off the injury.

The Bears figure to have other avenues to replace Meredith’s 2016 production in Nagy’s offense. In the Chiefs …read more

Source:: Chicago Sun-Times – Sports


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