The Saints are interested in hammering out a deal that would bring veteran wide receiver Robert Meachem back to New Orleans for 2014, more than one league source has confirmed.
The Saints and Meachem’s camp had broached the topic of a new contract by Friday, one of the sources said. Of course, what will ultimately determine whether Meachem rejoins the Black and Gold is if he and the team can agree on how much money he’s worth to New Orleans.
Meachem — due to become an unrestricted free agent on March 11 — had only 16 receptions for New Orleans in 2013. But he led the Saints in yards per catch (20.3) and had a pair of touchdown grabs; and the 6-foot-2, 210-pound wideout is valued greatly by coach Sean Payton’s staff for his ability to block well down the field.
Meachem has been in the NFL since the Saints drafted him in 2007, and he earned a base salary of $715,000 from New Orleans last season. Only one of his seasons has not been with the Saints: In 2012, he signed a four-year, $25.5 million contract with San Diego that guaranteed him $14 million.
The Chargers released Meachem after he caught 14 passes for 207 yards and two TDs, and he returned to the Saints at the beginning of the 2013 regular season.
It didn’t take long for Meachem to show the hustle that the Saints love in him. In a Week 2 win, after Tampa Bay linebacker Mason Foster picked off a Saints pass at the 15 and returned it for a touchdown, Meachem raced 96 yards from the Buccaneers 2 to New Orleans’ 2 in an effort to prevent the score. He tripped Foster up near the goal line, though the linebacker still managed to score.
Meachem, a native of Oklahoma who joined the NFL out of Tennessee, is one of three unrestricted Saints free agents who helped the team win its lone Super Bowl title at the end of the 2009 season. He has 157 catches, 2,593 yards and 25 receiving touchdowns in 77 regular-season contests for the Saints. His 25 TD receptions are the eighth-most in franchise history, and he has another 17 catches, 292 yards and a scoring grab in eight playoff games.
Another six Saints from the championship squad are still under contract.
ESPN wrote earlier in February that the Cowboys might target Meachem. There’s been speculation that Dallas might release veteran receiver Miles Austin, and the idea is that Meachem could come in to add affordable, veteran depth.