Linebacker Roquan Smith will not practice at Chicago Bears training camp due to his contract
Chicago Bears linebacker Roquan Smith is heading into the fifth year of his rookie contract and has let it be known that he plans to hold out from the start of training camp according to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Roquan Smith is arguably the best player on the Bears and is a key player within the new 4-3 defensive scheme. Smith represents himself and a report has it that the Bears haven’t come close to offering him something that he would play under an extension with.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 25, 2022
Smith is the second player in the history of the NFL along with Ray Lewis to combine for 300 tackles and 30 tackles for a loss over the course of two consecutive seasons. That statistic alone shows Smith’s value outside of the fact that he has yet to make a Pro Bowl and has yet to be named a first-team All-Pro selection.
The question is do the Bears see Smith as having the same value to the team as he does for himself. Smith is the best defensive player of the future for the Bears (yes 33-year-old Robert Quinn racked up 18.5 sacks a year ago) and should be a long-term contract extension consideration. Unfortunately with the Bears sitting at around $16-million currently there isn’t a lot of money the Bears can give Smith in an extension this year. That money that Smith deserves now could be what is holding up negotiations.
Roquan Smith’s value isn’t indisputable heading into the future. The middle linebacker position isn’t as valuable in the NFL as it once was. Smith is a great player and arguably the best linebacker in the NFL, but most teams prefer to put money into their receivers, their offensive tackles, their pass rushers and even defensive tackles rate higher contract value priority.
New general manager Ryan Poles may feel the same way and be looking to shift money towards the offense to help out Justin Fields. While it’s stating the obvious, the Bears need another wide receiver and they need an offensive tackle and those two positions are much more important to have All-Pros at than the middle linebacker spot.
Roquan Smith is a high priority to be signed, but he’s not irreplaceable and certainly not a priority over getting Fields more help on his side of the ball. It will be interesting to see what calculus the Bears take with this Smith extension. Could there even be a thought to trade the star linebacker for future draft capital? Time will tell and nothing should be out of the realm of consideration.
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