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Is Allen Hurns Plan B if Cameron Meredith departs?

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With Cameron Meredith exploring his options as a restricted free agent (with an original round tender), the Chicago Bears are still talking to free agent wide receivers.

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The Chicago Bears depth chart at wide receiver looks much better now than a year ago with the additions of Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel, but it’s still a work in progress. Robinson and Gabriel are added to a group that currently includes Cameron Meredith, Kevin White, Josh Bellamy, Tanner Gentry, DeMarcus Ayers and Mekale McKay. The wildcard in that group is Meredith, who is a restricted free agent. The Bears chose to give him an original round tender, so he is currently a member of their roster, but he has the option to sign an offer sheet with another team. The Bears can match the offer, which would keep him in Chicago, or allow him to leave in which case they would receive no compensation for his departure.

It’s a similar situation to the one that just played out with cornerback Kyle Fuller, but I doubt Meredith will receive a deal in the $18 million guaranteed ballpark.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Tennessee Titans Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Meredith missed the entire 2017 season with a torn ACL and a slight tear in his MCL, but reports have him being ready for training camp. If Meredith does return I think he slots into the starting Z receiver role with Robinson starting at the X. Gabriel, who did most of his work on the outside in his career, will be the number three, but don’t assume that makes him the slot receiver.

The west coast offense throws a lot of formations at a defense, with plenty of shifts and motions, meaning head coach Matt Nagy will scheme anyone he pleases into the slot. Meredith did a lot of work from the slot in 2016 and Robinson has been very effective there as well. Also, new tight end Trey Burton will get some reps flexed into the slot. Back in 2013 I explained how the west coast offense can scheme players around the formation getting anyone that want lined up in the slot.

The top of Chicago’s receiving depth chart, with this brand new offensive scheme, could be very exciting.

But what if Cameron Meredith receives an offer that the Bears aren’t comfortable matching?

While his career high in receptions and yardage is a modest 66 for 888, he did that in his second year after being an undrafted free agent. His career trajectory was trending upwards before his unfortunate injury last preseason. A team like the Indianapolis Colts, who Meredith has met with, has a ton of cap space and a need for wide receivers.

EDIT: Meredith also has a visit lined up with the Ravens.

I really don’t see the Bears allowing a homegrown talent to leave, but they are getting prepared just in case.

The recent release of wide out Allen Hurns by the Jacksonville Jaguars has Bears’ fans buzzing. Hurns is a 26-year old, former thousand yard receiver (in 2015), and like Meredith, he’s a former undrafted free agent that proved he belongs in the NFL.

This recent Tweet by new Bear, and former Jacksonville teammate Allen Robinson, just added to the speculation.

Robinson wasted no time in firing up his recruiting game and Hurns actually responded.

The eyeballs emoji is the international sign for LOOKIE HERE and it led Bears fans to assume he had some interest in playing in the Windy City with his friend Robinson.

That assumption was confirmed when he told Charlotte’s 610AM The Fan that the Bears were one of six teams that have already expressed interest in him.

Last year Hurns put up 39 catches for 484 yards in 10 games (8 starts). The last two years he’s missed 11 games with various injuries (ankle, hamstring, and shoulder) and in January of 2016 he had surgery to repair a sports hernia.

I think Hurns is the fallback plan just in case something crazy happens with Meredith, but could the Bears look to sign both players?

It’s certainly possible. Just look back at the depth chart I ran through in my first paragraph. Right now Kevin White is likely the number four receiver. He of the five career games in three years. Depending on how the market plays out for Hurns, he might like the upside of the Bears new offense with Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback. He might bet on Robinson, Meredith and Gabriel all missing a handful of games which will thrust him into the occasional prominent role.

I think ultimately Hurns will get a little bidding war going between teams and end up out of Chicago’s price range,

I also think Meredith will get a bigger offer than the Bears were expecting, but they’ll still match the offer.

How do you guys see the Meredith/Hurns saga playing out?