Restricted free agent receiver Cameron Meredith is the newest member of a New Orleans Saints offense that ranked second in the NFL last season.
Sean Payton said Wednesday that Meredith has signed with New Orleans after the Chicago Bears declined to match an offer from the Saints. Meredith's agent Ryan Grant Jersey , Cliff Brady, said the Bears declined to match the two-year offer worth about $10 million.
The Bears had until Wednesday afternoon to decide on whether to keep their 2016 receiving leader, who missed all of last season with a major knee injury.
The 25-year-old Meredith has played two NFL seasons. He caught 66 passes for 888 yards and four touchdowns two seasons ago, when his position coach was Curtis Johnson, who is now with the Saints.
Last season, Meredith tore his left anterior cruciate ligament during a preseason game against Tennessee.
Meredith joined the Bears as an undrafted free agent out of Illinois State. Because the Bears offered him a low restricted free-agent tender commensurate with an undrafted player, Chicago will not receive any compensation from the Saints in the form of draft picks.
The 6-foot-3 Meredith now moves to an offense led by record-setting quarterback Drew Brees and which ranked fifth in yards passing last season, with 261.8 yards per game, as well as second overall, with 391.2 yards per game.
He also becomes part of a team that came within seconds of advancing to last season's NFC title game.
During the NFL meetings in March, Payton said adding a receiver ranked high on New Orleans' offseason wish list. The Saints also brought in veteran free agent tight end Benjamin Watson late last month to bolster the passing game.
Top receiver Michael Thomas is returning, along with veteran receiver Ted Ginn John Brown Jersey , a prime deep threat. It remains to be seen whether restricted free agent Willie Snead will return to the Saints as he is able to solicit offer sheets from other clubs.
The addition of Meredith also could have draft implications for the Saints, who continue to seek a player who can help with the pass rush, particularly from the edge opposite All-Pro end Cameron Jordan.
While the Washington Capitals celebrated their first Stanley Cup title amid strewn sticks and gloves Thursday night, the T-Mobile Arena fans rose and gave one more stirring ovation to the bowed, kneeling figures in grey sweaters on the other end of the ice.
The Vegas Golden Knights didn’t win the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season. Just being there was a stupendous feat – and their fans quickly reminded them that it will feel even sweeter when the immediate sting of losing subsides.
”You come to Las Vegas thinking you’re going to play hockey,” Knights forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare said. ”Instead, you find a home.”
After playing a significant role in healing a city scarred by a mass shooting shortly before their regular-season opener, the Knights went farther and accomplished more than any expansion team in modern sports history. Vegas blew past the NHL expansion records for victories (51) and points (109) while winning the Pacific Division, and the upstarts then cut a swath through the Western Conference playoffs with 12 wins in 15 games.
About six months later than even their most optimistic new fans could have reasonably expected, the Golden Knights finally ran into an obstacle they couldn’t surmount.
”When you’re that close, it hurts. It hurts a lot,” defenseman Luca Sbisa said Friday Steven Stamkos Jersey , emotion evident in his voice. ”Right now, I’m speechless. But we can be proud of what we did.”
When owner Bill Foley proposed a six-year timetable for the Knights’ first Stanley Cup title, he was gently laughed off in the hockey world. Now that his team almost beat his projection by five years, general manager George McPhee is in charge of figuring out another daunting task.
What in the world will Vegas do for an encore?
Keeping the core of the NHL’s 31st franchise intact will be challenging, but definitely possible. The Knights also must figure out what pieces to add to a franchise that’s already looking like a desirable destination for veteran players who like warm weather and lots of winning.
The Knights’ most prominent unrestricted free agents are Sbisa and forwards James Neal and David Perron. They have several key restricted free agents, including goal-scoring star William Karlsson and defenseman Shea Theodore.
Although they don’t get another expansion draft, they’ve also got leftover assets from last summer to make moves for veteran players, both in free agency and in trades. McPhee has already begun work, but he said it’s likely the Knights won’t make major changes.
After all, they’ve got a pretty good thing going.
”Sometimes a great story, book or movie doesn’t have a perfect ending,” McPhee said. ”But it’s still a great story.”
Here are more things to know about the Knights and their upcoming offseason:
LONG TERM: Although McPhee took his job with a stated goal to build a foundation Adidas Brent Burns Jersey , the Golden Knights’ immediate success demonstrated that the future could be now. McPhee might not need to choose between the two courses of action, as he reiterated during his immediate comments Friday while the players packed up their lockers for the summer. McPhee should have the salary cap room and financial resources to make almost any personnel decision, and he also has a stockpile of two first-round picks and six second-round picks in the next three drafts.
FREE-AGENT FORWARDS: Neal has been a dependable NHL goal-scorer for a decade, and he scored 25 goals for the Knights while serving as a valuable veteran leader. McPhee seems eager to sign Neal, and Neal repeatedly said Friday that he wants to be back. A deal seems probable. The Knights face a tougher decision on Perron, who set a career high with 66 points in the regular season. He didn’t score a goal between March 4 and Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, getting relegated to a depth line. Perron revealed Friday that in-season talks with the Knights didn’t result in a new contract. ”I had a good year,” Perron said. ”I deserve what I deserve, but I’m willing to work with them to make sure I stay here.”
PRECIOUS FLOWER: Despite a middling Final, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was the backbone of Vegas’ success with 29 wins and a .927 save percentage in the regular season before three solid postseason rounds. He’s still a year away from unrestricted free agency, and if the three-time NHL champ gets his way, he’ll finish his career in Nevada. ”A couple of years ago Carl Lawson Jersey , I was told I was getting too old to play,” Fleury said. ”I still love it. Vegas gave me an opportunity to continue doing what I love and I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else.”
KARLSSON’S WORTH: Karlsson is one of McPhee’s biggest assets going into the offseason, and also one of the GM’s biggest challenges. The former Ducks and Blue Jackets prospect had never scored 10 goals in an NHL season before Columbus asked the Knights to pick him in the expansion draft. The Swede promptly scored 43 goals in Vegas and established himself as an elite talent. He made $1 million in the just-completed season, and he clearly deserves a fat raise. Given his unusual accomplishments and unclear market value, Karlsson also seems a possible candidate for another team to sign to an offer sheet, although that strategy is rarely used in the modern NHL.
NO PARADE: Despite their record-setting season, the Golden Knights say they won’t participate in any postseason parade or celebration after falling short of the Cup. Clark County and the Las Vegas city government had discussed throwing a parade even if the Knights didn’t win, but Green Bay Packers Customized Jerseys
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