Roquan Smith says he’d like to remain with the Chicago Bears for a long time.
The standout inside linebacker is a strong candidate for a contract extension this offseason, and based on his play since he arrived in 2018, he has earned it. Darius Leonard of the Indianapolis Colts signed a five-year, $98.5 million deal last year with $52.5 million guaranteed this offseason, setting the market. The Bears may not go that high — but they’ll have to come close to it if they want to secure Smith’s services for the next several seasons.
Smith finished with a career-high 163 tackles last season. He is the fastest Bears player to reach 500 career tackles in 58 games since 1994, and he is one of the team’s strongest leaders on either side of the ball.
When asked his thoughts on inking an extension this coming offseason, he said while he’s not worried about the contract itself, he would like to stay in the Windy City.
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Smith: ‘I Want to Be Here’
“The season ended and I’m healthy man and I’m just focused on enjoying the last little moments with my guys in the locker room and on the bus and stuff like that,” Smith said during his exit interview on January 9. “So that’s my focus. The other stuff will take care of itself. I’m not worried about that because we all know.”
When asked if he wanted to be with Chicago long-term, Smith didn’t hesitate.
“I want to be here, to be a Bear. It’s been great being drafted into such a rich organization, rich in tradition. So it means a lot to definitely be here. But hey, when the time comes, it comes but until then I just bust my tail and just keep proving who’s the best in the game.”
Smith had another solid season leading Chicago’s defense, netting 12 tackles-for-loss, 3.0 sacks, four QB hits, an interception and a defensive score. He was also excellent in coverage, allowing opposing QBs a passer rating of 86.8 when targeted, per PFF.
Smith has made it known he doesn’t care one bit about the stat sheet, though.
“Personally, I don’t really care about the attention or you know what type of season I have,” he said. “Because, at the end of the day, I can have 10 tackles and five TFLs for the year and if we win I would rather that as opposed to just having good numbers and stuff like that.”
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Smith Also Discussed His Mentality Going Into Offseason
“I’m a team guy the end of the day, but it sucks because you obviously want to win more,” Smith said about the team’s 6-11 finish this season. “It just gives me more drive going into the offseason. Just want to get better and I’m sure a lot of the guys can attest to that as well. … It’s just about everybody being the best version of themselves and not looking for others to help them out in situations. ‘Hey, give me the hard hat. I want this, I want that.’ So go work for it and do your job. That’s all it is. Everybody has a job every single play.”
The Bears are fully expected to extend Smith, who should land somewhere between $18-20 million a season, based on the current market for the league’s top insider linebackers.
You can watch Smith’s full exit interview below.