Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Robert Meachem has signed a one-year deal to remain with the New Orleans Saints.
Meachem will be used in certain circumstances, but when he is in, he usually runs deep routes. This past season, Meachem and Washington wide receiver Aldrick Robinson led the league with 20.3 yards per catch by a wide receiver with 10+ receptions. Meachem’s situational role led him to 16 catches for 324 yards in the 2013 regular season.
Transition Rougher Than Planned
Meachem excelled in the NCAA 2006 season, his junior season at Tennessee University under offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe, and he decided to forgo his senior season and declared for the 2007 NFL Draft, which had wide receiver as the most-drafted position. With wide receivers Calvin Johnson Jr., Ted Ginn Jr., and Dwayne Bowe being selected before the 27th pick, the New Orleans Saints draft Robert Meachem as a first-round pick. Meachem signed a 5-year deal with $11.3 million base salary with $5.71 million guaranteed before training camp. Unfortunately for both Meachem and the Saints, knee surgery was needed for Meachem, ending his rookie campaign before the season started.
Notable wide receivers drafted after Meachem: Sidney Rice (2nd, 44th Vikings), Steve Smith (2nd, 51st Giants), Jacoby Jones (3rd, 73rd Texans), James Jones (3rd, 78th Packers)
Burst of Speed New Orleans Needed
For the 2008 season, Meachem saw his first action versus Washington. Meachem caught a 19 yard touchdown pass as his first catch. When the Saints played the Broncos the week after, he beat single coverage for a 73 yard catch. After his first three catches, he was over 100 yards with 105.
With wide receiver Marques Colston sidelined with a broken thumb, Meachem saw more playing time versus the San Francisco 49ers. He had 2 catches for 99 yards with one being a 47 yard touchdown catch and the other a 52 yard flea flicker completion with heavy coverage. Meachem finished the 2008 season with 12 receptions for 289 yards and 3 touchdowns (with 24.1 yards per catch). Head coach Sean Payton was able to plan the offense as needed with the majority of his players being healthy after the 2008 season.
Earning the Elusive First Super Bowl Victory
The 2009 season was a special season for the New Orleans Saints. New Orleans started 11-0 going into their matchup versus Washington, the team he scored his first touchdown on. Meachem showed his speed during this game by stripping the ball from safety Kareem Moore after a Drew Brees interception and ran it into the endzone for a Saints touchdown. Down 7, Meachem then completes a 53 yard touchdown pass for a touchdown to tie the game (with the made PAT). The Saints won that game in overtime by a Garrett Hartley field goal and Meachem finished with 8 receptions for 142 yards and that late-game touchdown.
With the Week 13 victory over Washington, the Saints joined the 1985 Chicago Bears as the only NFC teams since the AFL-NFL merger to start (12-0). To set the record of (13-0), the Saints would have to beat the Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia Dome. The Saints defeated Atlanta 26-23 to set the NFC record (13-0) for an undefeated opening to a season. New Orleans dropped their final 3 games to not earn a perfect season, but they clinched their first ever first-round-bye.
Meachem by his postseason numbers was not a huge factor but his deep threat presence was important in the Saints gameplan. New Orleans defeated the Kurt Warner led Arizona Cardinals and the Brett Favre led Minnesota Vikings to play the Peyton Manning led Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl.
Like the 1985 Chicago Bears, the only other team to start (12-0) won the Super Bowl. After two more seasons with the Saints, he finished the 2011 season with free agency in his future. Meachem had 141 regular season catches for 2,269 yards and 23 touchdowns and played in six playoff games with 14 receptions for 184 yards and a touchdown.
Charging his Way toward San Diego
Meachem was planned to be part of San Diego Chargers‘ answer to Vincent Jackson signing with Tampa Bay. Meachem signed a four-year contract worth $25.5 million including a $7.5 million signing bonus. In a 7-6 loss to the Cleveland Browns, Meachem dropped a pass that could have been the game-winning touchdown and criticism in San Diego began to become national news. Before the 2013 season began, Meachem was victim of San Diego’s final roster cuts but was guaranteed $5 million for that season.
Return to New Orleans
Robert Meachem went from Super Bowl Champion in New Orleans to being called a “bust” in San Diego. Meachem then decided that rejoining the team that drafted him would be best for his own NFL future.
Sean Payton utilizes Meachem in a way that only the Saints can, and Meachem signed another one-year contract for the 2014 season.
Meachem will have to compete with Marques Colston and Kenny Stills for receptions, after Lance Moore was released and signed a contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers.