In terms of sheer lack of production versus contract value, there may not be a bigger bust from last year’s free-agent class than San Diego Chargers wide receiver Robert Meachem.
After a promising start to his career with the New Orleans Saints, the Chargers signed Meachem last offseason to a four-year, $25.9 million contract, expecting him to emerge as a big playmaker and a legitimate replacement for Vincent Jackson.
The results were disappointing, and that’s an understatement. He caught just 14 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns, both career lows. He never showed the speed and downfield playmaking ability that he did as a situational player for the Saints and was squarely behind starters Danario Alexander and Malcom Floyd on the Chargers depth chart.
He hasn’t been any better this preseason. He has caught three passes for 58 yards, but according to Chargers beat writer Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Meachem “simply can’t get open.”
According to Union-Tribune writer Michael Gehlken, Meachem fell behind Seyi Ajirotutu and Dan DePalma, both of whom are squarely on the Chargers roster bubble, on the depth chart for the Chargers’ most recent preseason game.
Even on a team whose wide receiver corps took a significant hit with a season-ending torn ACL for Danario Alexander in training camp, there may not be a role for Meachem. At the very least, he stands as the No. 5 receiver behind Malcom Floyd, Vincent Brown, Eddie Royal and Keenan Allen (in some order).
Considering his uninspiring performance from last season and thus far this preseason, chances are high that he will also fall behind Mike Willie, DePalma and/or Ajirotutu. Meachem’s $5 million base salary is fully guaranteed even if the Chargers cut him, but the team hasn’t shown much confidence in him this preseason given his lack of playing time.
Update, Tuesday Afternoon: Willie and DePalma were both placed on season-ending injured reserve Tuesday, which increases Meachem's chances of making the final roster.