NFL teams have now finalized their rosters. Teams made a flurry of releases to get down to the 53-man maximum. A number of popular veterans are always released during this time, and this series of releases has been no different.
The Chicago Bears have taken advantage of the opportunity, signing the recently cut Brandon Meriweather, formerly of the New England Patriots. The move seems like a great deal for the Bears. Here are five reasons why.
The talent that Brandon Meriweather possesses is hard to deny. The former Miami Hurricane was drafted by the New England Patriots in the first round of the NFL draft in 2007. In his four seasons in the NFL, Meriweather has been named to the Pro Bowl twice. He can obviously play the game.
He has 12 career interceptions and can make plays in the run game as well. He wasn't drafted by the Patriots in the first round for no reason. The man can play football when he wants to.
The Chicago Bears seemingly do not need Brandon Meriweather. On paper, the Bears have two solid starting safeties in Chris Harris and Major Wright. But things may not be as they appear.
Perhaps the Bears are not sold on Wright as a starting-caliber safety. That may be one reason why they pursued Meriweather.
The second-year player did not make a great impact last season, and the Bears may not be fully confident with him starting for a whole season. If he struggles in coverage, the Bears will have a glaring hole for opposing teams to exploit. With two games against each Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford, the Bears coverage must be solid.
Meriweather gives the Bears another proven cover guy if Wright cannot do the job.
Aside from Brandon Meriweather's talent, the Chicago Bears made a good decision regarding their future at the safety position with this signing.
The starter opposite of Major Wright is nine-year veteran Chris Harris. Harris has been a solid player for the Bears in recent years, posting a career-high five interceptions in 2010. However, at the age of 29, one has to question how long Harris can keep up this level of play.
Harris will most likely avoid a major decline for at least two years. However, he is a free agent after this season, and the Bears have not initiated any talks of an extension for their starting safety. They may not be willing to commit to Harris for more than another year or two.
Signing Meriweather gives the Bears some flexibility at the position next summer. If Major Wright continues to progress and turn into a long-term option, the Bears could opt to let Harris go in the offseason and replace him with Meriweather, who is only 27 years old and in the midst of his prime as a player.
For whatever reason, Brandon Meriweather fell out of favor in New England. He has a history of trouble-making going back to his days at Miami, when he was involved in a shooting incident where a teammate was shot. He has also been known to ignore coaches and play with poor fundamentals.
I guess the Patriots had simply had enough of Meriweather.
Perhaps a fresh start with new surroundings and a new coaching staff is just what Meriweather needs. There are a countless number of professional athletes who struggle to fit in with one team, only to leave and become stars in a new city. Meriweather could be one of these players.
Maybe Chicago coach Lovie Smith can get through to Meriweather and turn him around. If so, this could become a huge pickup for Chicago.
What do the Chicago Bears have to lose in signing Brandon Meriweather?
They are essentially taking a low-risk, high-reward chance on a player who is in the middle of his prime physically and has already been named to two Pro Bowls by the age of 27.
The Bears did not sign Meriweather to a long-term deal. He is only signed for one season. If things do not work out, the Bears can simply let him go without any financial repercussions. There is nothing to lose for the Bears and much to gain in this situation.
Signing Meriweather not only fills a need for the Bears, but also gives them another possible impact defensive player.