Bears Cut 2 Players, Place Starting LB on PUP List

Roquan Smith

Getty The Bears have placed starting LB Roquan Smith on the PUP list.

With the team’s training camp officially underway, the Chicago Bears have begun reshaping their roster.

After signing veteran offensive linemen Michael Schofield and Riley Reiff in a two-day stretch, the Bears released defensive back Allie Green and guard Willie Wright to make room on the roster, according to the NFL’s July 26 waiver wire. Green was an undrafted free agent out of the University of Missouri, while Brown was a free agent offseason signing who has spent time with the Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons.

The team also placed starting linebacker Roquan Smith on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list, along with defensive lineman Sam Kamara, while also assigning Non-Football Injury (NFI) designations to safety Dane Cruikshank, cornerback Michael Joseph and wide receiver Tajae Sharpe.

Some analysts, including Courtney Cronin of ESPN, floated the idea of Smith being a “hold in” at camp prior to his placement on the PUP list. The fourth-year linebacker, who is looking to ink a long-term deal with the Bears, was present at the team’s first day of training camp, but he did not participate in any way.

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Bears Coach Says Smith Has an Injury

When Bears head coach Matt Eberflus met with the media after the team’s first camp practice on July 27, he spoke highly of Smith, but skirted around any details involving the young LB’s current contract situation and potential injury.

“He’s in a good spot,” Eberflus said about Smith. “He’s really in a good spot. We had a great conversation talking to him about where he is. He’s focused. He’s in meetings and he’s wired in that way. He’s on PUP right now, so he’s not able to get out there and practice, but he’s wired in.”

When asked if Smith has an injury, Eberflus answered in the affirmative. “Of course,” the Bears coach said. “He’s on PUP. So that’s where he’s at.”

Eberflus was also asked if Smith’s placement on the PUP list was the result of the physical he took at Halas Hall, and he nodded.

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Smith Won’t Be Fined for His Camp Absences

Considering Smith wants a new, more lucrative contract and isn’t planning on putting his body in harm’s way until he gets it, it’s fair to wonder whether his placement on the PUP list isn’t just the team’s way of negotiating with him without subjecting him to fines. Players absent from training camp are not fined when they’re on the PUP list, and some analysts think that’s what Bears GM Ryan Poles is doing.

“Look, by this point everyone knows what this is, no matter how much misdirection the Bears try to run,” Dan Wiederer of The Chicago Tribune wrote. “Smith, entering the final year of his rookie contract, wants a new deal that rewards him as one of the most impactful defensive players in the game. And until contract negotiations with Poles and the front office move in a direction he finds palatable, Smith likely won’t return to the Halas Hall practice fields.”

Smith is looking to get paid amongst the top linebackers in the NFL, which would land him in the $19-20 million per year range. The Bears are slated to have over $95 million in cap space in 2023, per Over the Cap, and they have over $18.1 million currently, so they have the money to pay him. When and if they extend him remains to be seen, but it will be the talk of training camp until there’s some sort of resolution.

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