Bears Get More Bad News Involving Star LB Roquan Smith

Roquan Smith

Getty Roquan Smith has been a second-team All-Pro selection the last two seasons.

The Chicago Bears are navigating an array of issues with a handful of their top players, and the situation involving a young cornerstone defender appears only to be getting worse.

Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated appeared on the Monday, August 1, edition of “NBC Sports Chicago’s Unfiltered with David Kaplan” to offer an update on the contract negotiations between the Bears and their second-team All Pro linebacker Roquan Smith. The news Breer offered was not encouraging.


Unfiltered: Albert Breer on NFL and Bears news, MLB trade deadline rumors | NBC Sports ChicagoOn Unfiltered, David Kaplan is joined by Sports Illustrated and MMQB's Albert Breer from Green Bay Packers training camp to give us his report from Bears camp over the weekend. We are hours away from the MLB trade deadline. We get an update from USA Today's Bob Nightengale about the moves around the league. Chicago…2022-08-01T23:30:00Z

 

 

“I think they definitely got a ways to go when it comes to a long-term deal,” Breer said.

He added that Smith is not the prototypical type of linebacker new Chicago head coach Matt Eberflus favored as the defensive coordinator of the Indianapolis Colts, in that Smith possesses the athleticism but not the size of players like Darius Leonard.

“Roquan [Smith] is a departure from that,” Breer explained. “It’s going to be interesting to see where [the Bears] value him versus where his league-wide value would be.”

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Smith Will Be Part Of Bears’ Roster in 2022 No Matter What

Roquan Smith Bears defense

GettyLinebacker Roquan Smith of the Chicago Bears is currently on the PUP list as he seeks a contract extension with the team.

Kaplan pointed out that even if Smith can’t reach a deal with the team, the linebacker will be forced to play this season on the final year of his rookie contract so that he can achieve the necessary NFL service time required to hit unrestricted free agency come Spring 2023. Smith will earn a little more than $9.7 million in his fifth NFL season, per Spotrac.

Smith is currently on the PUP list, which is short for “physically unable to perform,” and is not participating in training camp. However, Kaplan on Monday gave voice to a popular notion floating around Chicago that Smith is operating as a “hold in” at training camp. Heading into the preseason, Smith was expected to sit out camp if an extension could not be reached.

Eberflus said during a media session on July 27 that Smith is, in fact, suffering from an injury, using the opportunity in front of the cameras to play up the relationship between the franchise and its star linebacker.

“He’s in a good spot,” Eberflus said. “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.”

Smith has appeared in 61 of a possible 65 games for the Bears over his four-year career, starting 59 of those. The linebacker registered 163 tackles last season, including 12 tackles for loss, four quarterback hits, three sacks, three passes defensed and one interception that he returned for a touchdown, per Pro Football Reference.

While Chicago holds all the cards for the coming year, the Bears need to proceed with caution so as not to alienate Smith to the point that they are either forced to trade him mid-season or risk watching him walk in return for nothing when free agency hits in 2023.


Bears Managing Strained Relationships With Multiple Top Players

Teven Jenkins

GettyChicago Bears offensive tackle Teven Jenkins blocks during a play against the Minnesota Vikings on December 20, 2021.

The Bears are also struggling to maintain a good working relationship with offensive lineman Teven Jenkins. Chicago selected Jenkins in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, but leadership in the front office and on the sideline has changed since then.

Jenkins has reportedly missed multiple practices and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported on Monday that the team is now fielding trade requests for the 24-year-old tackle. Breer also spoke to Kaplan Monday about Jenkins’s situation.

“[Chicago] drafted a couple of offensive linemen … and I think that’s a big piece of it,” Breer said. “In this case, I think it’s [general manager] Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus taking a cold, hard look at the roster. And those guys also had their own evaluations on guys like [Jenkins] going back to [the] Kansas City [Chiefs] and Indianapolis.”

“I just think it’s one of those things where it’s a different staff, a different scheme and, obviously, a different level of investment in the players that are in-house,” Breer continued.

The Bears are also looking to move on from pass rusher Robert Quinn via a trade prior to the start of the regular season. Quinn finished second in the NFL in QB sacks with 18.5 last year, but he also carries a salary cap hit of more than $17 million on a team that is not expected to contend in a meaningful way in 2022.

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