Bears Top Defender Unhappy, Set to Be No-Show at Camp: Report

Roquan Smith

Getty LB Roquan Smith is expected to hold out at training camp this year.

The Chicago Bears are set to be without top linebacker Roquan Smith for training camp.

According to NFL insider Ian Rapoport, Smith is not going to participate in the team’s camp, which kicks off for veterans on July 26, because he is unhappy with what he has been offered in contract extension talks. Per Rapoport, “Smith has not yet received an offer he would remotely consider.”

Smith, 25, has established himself as one of the top young linebackers in the NFL. He has amassed over 100 tackles in each of his first four seasons, and he had over 300 tackles and 30 tackles-for-loss over the last two seasons. The only other LB to do that in NFL history is Hall of Famer Ray Lewis.

Smith is clearly the young leader of Chicago’s defense, and odds are the team will extend him over the next month or so. It’s likely his holdout is the young LB trying to test his new general manager, Ryan Poles.

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Smith Has Gone on Record Saying He Wants to Stay in Chicago

When speaking to the media on April 20, Smith said his hope was to remain with the Bears for the foreseeable future. “Absolutely, yeah,” Smith said when asked if he wants to stay in the Windy City long-term. “That’s my plan.”

A former eighth overall pick out of the University of Georgia, Smith has been negotiating for himself, and doesn’t have an agent.

“It’s personal at the end of the day,” Smith said about his reasoning for operating sans agent. “All that business is more so my business upstairs. I’m confident we’ll get everything taken care of.”

It’s clear Smith wants to paid among the top-tier of ILBs. The highest-paid LB in football is the Colts’ Darius Leonard, who makes an average of $19.7 million per year, per Spotrac. C.J. Mosley of the New York Jets is the second-highest paid ILB in the league, making $17 million a season.

“At the end of the day, and I’ll always be this way, I’m me and I’ll stand for what I believe in,” Smith added. “And my job and what I believe in is showing up and doing what I have to do. I don’t focus on others or anything like that. I just know what I signed up for.”

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Bears Defense Could Have Some Holes at Camp

With Smith an expected no-show at camp, there’s also veteran pass rusher Robert Quinn to consider. After leading Chicago in sacks in 2021 (18.5), it has been rumored that Quinn wants out. If the veteran defender shows up, he’s surely planning on playing. If he doesn’t, though, a trade could be coming.

The Bears recently settled their contract dispute with 2022 second-round safety Jaquan Brisker, who was holding out over disputes with his rookie contract, so he’ll be expected to attend practice moving forward.

The ball is now in Poles’ court where Smith is concerned. We’ll see how Chicago’s first-year GM handles the situation — and the rest of Chicago’s list of potential player absences.

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