Roquan Smith is the future of the Chicago Bears defense, and whenever the team inks him to a long-term deal, he’s going to get paid. The Bears picked up the starting linebacker’s fifth-year option, and if he plays well in 2021, Smith is on his way to becoming the only 1st round draft pick general manager Ryan Pace will reward with a second contract.
After the latest blockbuster in which the San Francisco 49ers signed linebacker Fred Warner to a five-year deal worth $95 million, the market has been pretty much set for Smith, who is coming off one of the impressive season of his young career. He was a second team All-Pro in 2020, netting 139 total tackles (98 solo, 18 for loss), 4 sacks and 2 interceptions. He earned a 67.2 overall grade from PFF, and was particularly good in coverage, getting an 84.0 mark while allowing a stingy 75.8 passer rating when targeted by opposing quarterbacks.
Smith was the only defensive starter present at the team’s OTAs in June, and at just 24-years of age, he’s set to be the primary building block of the Bears defense.
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What Roquan’s Contract Could Look Like
Warner’s deal is likely just the starting point. Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard is expected to ink something along the lines of a four-year deal worth $19+ million a year, per NFL insider Adam Schefter.
Smith has been named a second-team All-Pro once. Warner and Leonard have both been first-team All-Pros (Leonard has had the honor twice), so it remains to be seen whether that will make any difference when it comes time for Chicago to negotiate Smith’s contract.
Right now, Smith is looking at something like a four/five-year deal worth upwards of $20 million per year, according to salary cap expert Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus.
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2021 Will Be Huge Year For Smith
When asked about signing a long-term deal with the Bears last month, Smith dodged the question. “That’s going to come when it comes. I’m not too focused on that right now. My main focus right now is OTAs, getting out here with my teammates,” Smith said on June 15.
“I definitely feel like this season I’m like one of the leaders and what not,” Smith added. “I feel like I’ll be vocal when I need to be, but I’m not some rah-rah guy and get out there and try to tell everyone what to do. I feel like we’re all adults here. We know right from wrong. We know if we’re doing the right things and what not. So it’s just about each and every individual holding themselves accountable.”
Smith did add, however, that a new deal was “definitely” something he wanted.
How well Smith performs this coming season will be huge, as it will very likely determine how much the Bears offer him.