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Bears WR Cam Meredith signs offer sheet with Saints: report

Bears receiver Cam Meredith is a restricted free agent. (AP)

Cam Meredith, two years removed from being the Bears’ leading receiver, has signed a two-year offer sheet with the Saints worth, per NFL Network, $9.6 million, plus incentives, with $5.4 million guaranteed. The Bears have five days to either match the terms or let Meredith walk without compensation.

Meredith was given an original-round tender by the Bears last month, guaranteeing him a one-year deal worth $1.907 million if he returned next year. The tender enabled him to seek outside offers, though. Had the Bears placed a second-round tender on him — for about an extra $1 million in 2018 — other teams likely would have been dissuaded by the compensation.

The Saints are familiar with Meredith; receivers coach Curtis Johnson mentored Meredith with the Bears.

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Meredith caught 66 passes for 888 yards in 2016 before tearing his knee in the Bears’ third preseason game last year. A former Illinois State quarterback, Meredith signed as an undrafted free agent in 2015. He represents one of the Bears’ best player development success stories. With new receivers Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel in the fold, however, the Bears could decide to let Meredith walk. Given that they declined to give him $2.91 million for 2018, allowing him to leave for a higher salary seems a possibility.

Meredith visited the Saints, Colts and Ravens in recent weeks.

Ryan Pace has already matched one offer sheet this year — the Packers signed transition-tagged cornerback Kyle Fuller to an offer last month, only for the Bears general manager to agree to keep Fuller hours later. Another restricted free agent, wide receiver Josh Bellamy, signed his Bears offer sheet earlier this week after not receiving a contract offer from an outside team.