Robert Meachem Signs with San Diego Chargers: Deal Analysis and Grade

Zach KruseSenior Analyst IMarch 14, 2012

JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 02:  Daryl Smith #52 of the Jacksonville Jaguars attempts to tackle  Robert Meachem #17 of the New Orleans Saints during a game at EverBank Field on October 2, 2011 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

NFL free agency is always good for a curveball or two, and receiver Robert Meachem threw one late Tuesday night. 

Instead of signing on the dotted line for the Buffalo Bills, like many expected, Meachem agreed to a four-year deal with the San Diego Chargers. Adam Caplan of The Sideline View first reported the news Tuesday, and Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune tweeted that the deal is worth $25.9 million over the four years with $14 million guaranteed. 

Most had previously believed that the Bills were the clear front-runners to land Meachem, who visited Buffalo earlier on Tuesday. 

The former first-round pick of the Saints out of Tennessee apparently found a better situation with the Chargers and a contract offer he couldn't pass up.

Chargers general manager A.J. Smith found a receiver in Meachem that fits the mold he has historically coveted, and he'll be expected to replace Vincent Jackson, who bolted from San Diego for Tampa Bay earlier Tuesday.

Meachem has the kind of size (6'2", 210 lbs.) and speed (4.4-second 40-yard dash) that Smith looks for in the receiver position.

While you'd be hard-pressed to argue that Meachem is an upgrade on paper over Jackson, the Chargers shouldn't have to alter their offense considerably when plugging in the new for the old. Meachem should be able to handle playing a similar role to that which Jackson monopolized during his six seasons in San Diego.

There are worries about Meachem, however.

Meachem will replace Jackson (83), who signed with Tampa Bay.
Meachem will replace Jackson (83), who signed with Tampa Bay.Donald Miralle/Getty Images

The most obvious concern is that Meachem was never a high-production receiver on one of the NFL's very best offenses. In four seasons, Meachem never caught more than 45 passes or went over 800 yards.

His best season was arguably 2009, when Meachem had 45 receptions for 722 yards and nine touchdowns. In 2011, Meachem had 40 catches for 640 yards and six touchdowns. You wouldn't consider those No. 1 receiver numbers from even a below-average passing team.

However, the Chargers are likely to lean on Meachem considerably more moving forward, and you'd have to expect him to set new career highs in catches and yards early on in his contract with San Diego.    

Overall, the match for both parties appears to be a solid one. Meachem didn't appear to be a great fit in Buffalo after the Bills gave Steve Johnson a big deal before free agency, and playing in a vertical offense with Philip Rivers must have a certain appeal to it.

As long as Meachem can increase his production in a bigger role, I see nothing wrong with the Chargers replacing Jackson with a young target that fits what San Diego wants to do on offense.

Grade: A-