Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 1/21/12

NEW ORLEANS - AUGUST 30: Wide Receiver Robert Meachem #17 of the New Orleans Saints lines up for a play against the Miami Dolphins on August 30, 2007 at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
When the Super Bowl ends, the free-agency period unofficially begins.  And the New Orleans Saints are facing one of the most difficult free-agent periods in franchise history.

One of those players is #17, WR Robert Meachem.

At 6' 2", 210 lbs, Robert Meachem has been a productive receiver in the Saints offense.  The former first-round draft pick out of Tennessee has accumulated 2,269 yards and 23 TDs during his Saints career.  Entering his prime years of his career, at age 27, Meachem is likely to emerge in 2012 and produce some astonishing numbers.  His skill set makes him a smart acquisition for any team.  Today, I had the privilege of discussing these topics during a phone interview with Meachem:

Jennifer Trosclair:  Many 2012 season predictions simply state that if the Saints want to remain the leader in the NFC South and the NFL Powerhouse that they currently are, they will have to re-sign multi-year contracts with players such as Marques Colston and yourself.  Which of course leads to the question:  Has there been any talk of extending your contract before free agency approaches in March?
 
Robert Meachem:  Not at the moment.  I feel like God will put me in the right place.  I try not to worry about it.  I think my film will show where I stand as a wide receiver in this league.  I pray – I would love to be a Saint.  But it’s one of those things I don’t really get to control.
 
JT:  Well, to expand on that, I am not sure if you keep up with Fantasy Football blogs and other free agency news sites, but you are currently at the top of many Free Agency Wish Lists for teams such as the Cardinals, Broncos, Titans, Eagles, and Redskins.  One Washington Redskin article actually states that their team could add some “downfield potential to their receiving corps” by signing you.  How does this make you feel and what are your thoughts on going to a team that will give you a bigger role?
 
RM:  I would love that but right now I am just leaving it in my agent’s hands and God’s hands.  I’m just letting them do what they do.  You always think about that – what would it be like to have 80 or 90 catches.  On the Saints, we have a lot of weapons, so it’s tough to reach your 80 or 90 mark.
 
JT:  You don’t have to be a sports fan to recognize Sean Payton as the gutsy play caller and Head Coach of the Saints.  And, many recognize Gregg Williams and his aggressive defense.   However, a majority of people don’t know much about the wide receivers coach, Curtis Johnson.  He has coached up guys like Devery Henderson, Lance Moore, Marques Colston, and yourself.  What impact will losing one of the leagues’ best receiver coaches have on the Saints?
 
RM:  That’s going to be a great loss.  He’s been coaching wide receivers for years now – so it will be tough to part with a guy with his experience.  It will be tough to have young rookie guys come in and not be able to be mentored like we were when we were rookies.
 
JT:  I was browsing your Follow Your Dreams Foundation website (www.fydf.org) and wanted to know more about the “Who Dat/Dirty Bird Celebrity Weekend” you will be hosting in June 2012.
 
RM:  It’s a weekend I am hosting with one of my good friends, Dominique Franks who plays for the Atlanta Falcons.  We are both from Oklahoma and we really want to give back to our community.  It will be a weekend full of fun – not just for kids, but for adults as well.  We want to show that we appreciate all they have done for us when we were kids to get to this level. 
 
JT:  I saw there will be a Celebrity Basketball game as well.  Who is playing on that?
 
RM:  Right now we are trying to get the guys who played with Dominique at Oklahoma University, like Sam Bradford.  We want to get a lot of big name guys from Oklahoma so we can show the community that we have made it.  We want the young kids to see it is possible.
 
JT:  Could you also tell me more about your “Read 60” program?  We are familiar with Play 60, but what is “Read 60” all about?
 
RM:  The “Read 60” program requires kids to read 7 books in order to get into our summer football camp.  We don’t want to charge the kids for camp, so the best way I could think of showing the kids they earned their way into camp, was to have them read 7 books.  It’s like them scoring a touchdown.  All they have to do is to visit any library in Oklahoma or at their schools, and have their teachers mark off that they have read 7 books.  This way, they get to come to the camp and be around professional guys as well as local guys.  And they feel like they earned it because they actually did the work to make it to the camp.  This shows them that things in life are not free.  Hopefully we can get Felix Jones and Mark Anderson to come out and help this year.
 
JT:  So what are your plans for the offseason?  Is your family moving back to Oklahoma or are you remaining in New Orleans?
 
RM:  Oh no, we are remaining in New Orleans, especially because I train here.  As of right now, I am resting.  We will go back to Oklahoma for the camp and to visit my family and the missus’ family because she’s from Tulsa as well. 

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