A little over two seasons ago, Cameron Meredith was a rising star. After catching 66 passes for 888 yards on a horrendous Bears team in 2016, the receiver looked like one of the NFL’s next up-and-comers to keep a keen eye on. A stellar possession man with an uncanny knack for making himself available to the quarterback, Meredith had everything a modern offense wanted in a flanker. Following a disastrous, poorly-timed torn ACL in 2017’s preseason, and it’s as if Meredith’s proposed meteoric rise happened in a different era of football.
Who’s to say it ever happened after what he’s been through?
On Monday morning, the former Bears standout Meredith was unceremoniously released by the Saints. Unceremonious would be an understatement. The more accurate distinction is unexceptional, almost anonymous. Meredith’s terse reaction on Instagram saying, “It’s been fun,” was ironically just as short as his stint in a new NFL city.
In two years with New Orleans, Meredith started in one game and had just six appearances. He caught one touchdown and nine passes on ten targets: efficient on a small sample size, but not nearly what the Saints thought they were getting when acquiring him as a restricted free agent from the Bears. Glaringly, he played a total of a little under 12 percent of the Saints’ offensive snaps last season. In case it was a shock, it’s that damned torn ACL suffered in the 2017 preseason while playing with the Bears of which has irretrievably sunk Meredith’s outlook. Everything that’s happened to the 26-year-old since has turned his playing career into an uphill battle. It’s a battle with seemingly certain defeat.
Meredith’s unfortunate and tragic situation should have been easy to predict. Complications from the ACL had not only forced him to miss the entire 2017 regular season, but much of the Saints’ off-season program last summer. Beforehand, the Bears had elected to put minimal protections on retaining Meredith’s services in the 2018 off-season. When the high octane Saints nabbed him away from Chicago with a two-year offer sheet in free agency, alarm bells should’ve sounded off for someone making decisions. The Bears didn’t put up much of a fight or tighten their grip around Meredith when threatened with his departure. That along should’ve advised any individual in New Orleans’ front office to approach Meredith with caution. But believing they knew Pace better than most, the Saints were calling their former director of player personnel’s bluff.
It turns out Pace’s poker face is quite difficult to read.
Meredith had minimal participation in the Saints’ 2018 training camp, and wasn’t ready for the open of the season. New Orleans would go on to comfortably win the NFC South and play in the 2019 NFC Championship Game, anyway: it’s not an ideal development when your team wins so much without you. When the young receiver wasn’t even participating in this June’s minicamps, the writing was not only on the wall, someone frustratingly punched multiple holes in the dry wall. Someone should fix that when they get a chance. It’s a foundation hazard to avoid.
After breaking out with the Bears a few seasons back, Meredith’s professional career has been on a precipitous downturn. Chicago has overhauled its receiving corps from top to bottom in that span, while Meredith may now struggle to find a steady, permanent playing home. The definition of a football Greek tragedy, and a white dwarf of a star.
Robert is the Editor-in-chief of The Blitz Network, the managing editor of Windy City Gridiron, and the Bears beat writer for The Rock River Times. Follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski. You can’t take a picture of this. It’s already gone.