Free agency is heating up during the NFL’s negotiating window over the next two days. Before any breaking out-of-the-box news, the Bears have first elected to care of their own by assigning an original round tender to Cameron Meredith, reports Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.
Seen as a core offensive player by the Bears, evidently they are confident the 25-year-old Meredith is recovering well from a torn ACL suffered in Week 3 of the 2017 preseason. General manager Ryan Pace has already alluded to working on a long-term extension for Meredith at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine, making the prioritization abundantly clear.
An original round tender on the former undrafted free agent in Meredith effectively makes it a transition tag that can facilitate that desired long-term deal. That’s because the Bears can’t get a draft pick on a player that wasn’t drafted as compensation for losing him. Other prospective teams can instead send out contract offers to Meredith but the Bears have the option to match every deal. He can test the waters if he should so choose, but that means he doesn’t have the freedom to walk away unless the Bears let him. Assigning that original round tender on the restricted free agent means Chicago feels safe in understanding what Meredith’s market would be if he were legitimately available. Of note, the tender is worth $1.907 million.
Since the two sides in the Bears and Meredith appear to have established an obvious rapport, that mentioned contract should be in the works soon. If not now, then assuredly by the summer. As Chicago looks to fill in the gaps on offense for Mitchell Trubisky, look for Meredith to pick up where he left off with him sitting firmly in the revitalized Bears’ roster construction plan.
Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for The Rock River Times, an editor for Windy City Gridiron and Inside The Pylon, and is a contributor to Pro Football Weekly and The Athletic Chicago. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.