Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Chargers try to rebound, add Meachem
By Bill Williamson
As soon as free agency began Tuesday afternoon, the Buffalo Bills had a plane waiting for New Orleans free agent receiver Robert Meachem.
The Bills flew him north and dined with him Tuesday night. The Bills had a full itinerary waiting for him Wednesday. Then, Vincent Jackson left the Chargers. All Buffalo bets were off.
With Jackson and several other receivers off the market quickly Tuesday, the San Diego Chargers -- who NFL.com reports showed late interest in Pierre Garcon before he signed with the Redskins -- went from showing no interest in Meachem early in free agency to becoming his most ardent pursuer. In addition to Buffalo, the Chargers blew away two other teams with a huge offer for Meachem.
And now the speedster is going to be Philip Rivers’ newest toy.
Meachem agreed to a four-year, $25.9 million deal with $14 million guaranteed in the first two years of the deal. The agreement came hours after Jackson signed with the Buccaneers for five years and $55.5 million.
There is no doubt Meachem is not as accomplished as Jackson and the Chargers would be best served to add another receiver in free agency. The best options are Brandon Lloyd, Laurent Robinson and Mario Manningham. They also could use their first-round pick on someone such as Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd. I think Lloyd could be an interesting option.
Pittsburgh's Mike Wallace would cost a first-round pick as a restricted free agent if the Steelers didn’t match a deal. I think the Meachem agreement ends that possibility. Perhaps San Diego could look at Oakland’s Chaz Schilens, who played at San Diego State. He’d fit the Chargers’ mold of big receivers.
Meachem does give the Chargers a terrific vertical threat. He has 4.3-second speed in the 40-yard dash. He will be a good fit with Rivers and No. 2 starter Malcom Floyd, who also is a field stretcher. Like Floyd, Meachem has had some durability issues. Vincent Brown likely will be the No. 3 receiver in his second season.
Meachem had 40 catches for 620 yards last season for the Saints, where he often was lost in a strong receiving crew. Meachem, the Saints’ first-round pick in 2007, had 129 catches and 20 touchdowns in the past three seasons, and has averaged 16.1 yards per catch in his career. There is no doubt Meachem has big-play flair and he will fit in Norv Turner’s system, but I still believe the Chargers need to add to their receiving crew.
UPDATE: I caught up with Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. on Wednesday morning. Here are his thoughts on the Chargers’ day at receiver:
“Meachem isn’t Vincent Jackson. He is very talented, though, and I do think his most productive football might be in front of him. He also is a deep threat, which is absolutely key in San Diego’s deep passing attack. But, to me, there was only one No. 1 receiver on the market, and he just signed with Tampa Bay.”