Bears free agency: Team extends contracts to WRs Cam Meredith, Josh Bellamy
The Bears will be aggressive in remodeling a wide-receiver corps that ranked among the worst in the league last season, but they won’t do it from scratch.
The team plans to extend original-round tenders to restricted free agents Cam Meredith and Josh Bellamy, sources said Monday, awarding each a $1.907 million contract for 2018 and retaining the right to match outside offers.
The Bears could’ve given Meredith a second-round tender, which would’ve cost them about $1 million more in salary and would’ve required a second-round pick from any team that outbid the Bears. With original-round tenders, the Bears don’t receive compensation if they don’t match another team’s offer.
Still, it appears as if both players will play for the Bears in 2018. Meredith, the former Illinois State quarterback, caught 66 passes for 888 yards in 2016. He was poised to be the team’s top receiver last year before tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee — and partially tearing the medial collateral ligament — in the third preseason game. He has been working out at Halas Hall.
Bellamy had a career-high 376 yards on 24 receptions last season but might be best remembered for his involvement in a screaming match that resulted in wide receiver Tre McBride getting cut.
If the Bears bulk up at receiver, as expected, Bellamy still has value on special teams. He ranked in the top five in Bears special-teams snaps in 2015 and 2016.
The Bears are targeting free-agent receivers during the legal tampering period, which opened Monday in advance of the start of free agency Wednesday. Oft-injured wide receiver Kevin White spent last week training with Mitch Trubisky in Southern California.
This and that
The Bears will tender nickel cornerback and restricted free agent Bryce Callahan, giving them right of first refusal if another team makes an offer. Callahan started 16 games over the last two seasons and had two interceptions last year.
◆ The team won’t tender a contract to long snapper Patrick Scales, an exclusive-rights free agent. Scales played all 16 games for the Bears in 2016 before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in the same game as Meredith.
◆ Tight end Daniel Brown isn’t expected to receive a tender, but the restricted free agent remains a candidate to return.
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