METAIRIE -- Cameron Meredith is leaving his home to join the New Orleans Saints.

That wasn't his plan. Not necessarily, even though he knew it was a possibility when Chicago placed the lowest tender on him as a restricted free agent, then went out and spent big money to bring in wide receivers Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel.

But Meredith is Chicago through and through. Brought up in Berwyn, Ill., a suburb of the Windy City, Meredith was a college quarterback at Illinois State, only a short drive away in Normal, and then made his name in the NFL as a receiver with the Bears.

So when Chicago decided not to match the Saints' two-year, $9.6 million offer, it was a little tough.

"You know, it's my home city, so you know of course a bit of a disappointment," Meredith said. "So it was a surprise, but at the end of the day I signed that letter agreement with the Saints knowing that was a possibility. I was expecting to be a Saint, but if the Bears matched, it wouldn't have been bad either."

Chicago reportedly chose not to match the offer because of concerns about Meredith's surgically-repaired knee. Meredith was coming off of a breakout season in 2016 when he tore his ACL and his MCL in the preseason, and the Bears' medical staff reportedly was not convinced about the stability.

Both New Orleans and the Baltimore Ravens signed off on Meredith's knee, though, and the 25-year-old wide receiver believes he'll be healthy in time for the start of training camp.

"I have not had any setbacks along the recovery process. I'm gaining strength day by day," Meredith said. "The main objective for me is to do as much as I can with the trainers to get ready for the season. My goal is to try and get back to training camp, but as long as there aren't any setbacks or anything like that, it should not be any problem."

Meredith did not want to speculate on Chicago's evaluation of his knee.

"That's not my place to say," Meredith said. "From what I know and what I've been told, I'm right on schedule, and I haven't had any setbacks, and I should be 'A okay,' at least from the medical standpoint."

If he wasn't headed back to Chicago, New Orleans represented a level of familiarity for Meredith in the person of Curtis Johnson, the Saints receivers coach who was working in the same role with the Bears when Meredith had his breakout season.

"C.J. was a big part of my success in Chicago, (and) to be able to rejoin him in New Orleans and get back where we left off like nothing really happened. .. " Meredith said. "We're picking up right where we left off."

Provided that Meredith is healthy, the 6-foot-3, 207-pound target offers tantalizing possibility in the Saints' offense. New Orleans likes to employ big-bodied slot receivers, and Meredith was effective in that role in 2016 in Chicago.

If Meredith develops a relationship with Drew Brees quickly -- he plans to work with Brees and the other Saints receivers in San Diego this offseason -- he could play a key role in returning New Orleans to its usual efficiency on third downs after dropping to an alarming 19th last season, the only time in the Sean Payton era that the Saints were not in the top 10 on third down.

"I enjoy moving around, taking advantage of different types of routes and mismatches on the field," Meredith said. "We'll probably get into that once we can figure out how to come off this injury, and you know what all I can do. Hopefully I can go out there and do as much as I can, all around the field."

Play that role well enough, and New Orleans might become Meredith's second home.