Surprising New Reasons Emerge for Roquan Smith Trade: Report

Roquan Smith

Getty Roquan Smith has been traded to the Baltimore Ravens.

The Chicago Bears have been the most active sellers before the 2022 NFL trade deadline, sending top pass rusher Robert Quinn to the Philadelphia Eagles before making a huge splash when they sent stud linebacker Roquan Smith to the Baltimore Ravens.

The Bears got a fourth-rounder in exchange for Quinn and second- and fifth-round picks for Smith and they now have a total of eight draft picks in 2023.

Many fans were stunned and disappointed when news broke on Halloween day that Bears general manager Ryan Poles had traded Smith, who was drafted by the team at No. 8 overall in 2018. The 25-year-old linebacker was a fan favorite, but it seems Smith and Poles couldn’t get on the same page regarding a contract extension.

Smith had requested a trade in August after contract negotiations fell through and according to one top Bears insider, the way the LB has conducted himself both on and off the field left Poles with little choice other than to trade him.

Roquan Smith Isn’t a ‘Football First’ Guy, Says Insider

Smith made it clear that he wants to be paid among the league’s best at the inside linebacker position, which, according to Spotrac, is in the $18-20 million a year range, a mark set by Shaq Leonard of the Indianapolis Colts.

Jeff Hughes of Da Bears Blog, who is one of the most connected insiders covering the team, says the Bears didn’t trust Smith “at the organizational level,” and therefore, didn’t want to shell out that kind of money for a new deal.

“Roquan had a weird history with this club and that history involved an active nightlife that often got him into trouble,” Hughes wrote on November 1. “It was fair for ownership to wonder whether Smith would remain motivated after receiving a massive payday. When guys are not ‘football first’ – and Roquan was decidedly not – motivation often decreases when the bank balance increases.”

Poles said in August after Smith requested a trade initially that there were “record-setting pieces” of the team’s contract offer to the LB that he believed would “show him the respect that he deserves, and obviously that hasn’t been the case.”

Hughes elaborated on the contract negotiations a bit:

“They believed it was a fair offer,” Hughes wrote about Chicago’s offer to Smith. “Roquan did not agree, abandoning the negotiating table and taking things public with a trade request. When he did so, he terminated his long-term relationship with the franchise’s new general manager. Yesterday, the franchise terminated their relationship with him. Was it a bold move? Yes. It was also inevitable.”

Hughes: Smith’s Slow Start to 2022 Season Didn’t Help

Smith played 100% of the Bears’ defensive snaps his first eight games this season, and he currently leads the league in total tackles after Week 8 (83). He also has three QB hits, 2.5 sacks and two interceptions this season, but he hasn’t been as effective as Poles and company hoped he would be in Matt Eberflus’s defensive system.

Smith had a season-low five tackles in Chicago’s Week 8 defeat at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys, and the Bears’ defense allowed a season-high 442 total yards (242 passing, 200 on the ground) in the loss. Hughes says this inconsistent production was also a factor in Poles’ decision to trade Smith.

“The production was not there in 2022,” Hughes added. “Forget tackles, and the occasional interception. Roquan Smith is an off-ball linebacker in a pass-heavy NFL. The Bears are the second worst run defense in the league. Opposing tight ends eat their lunch every week. Smith is not entirely to blame for either development in 2022, but he too often disappears from games.”

Despite the on-field inconsistencies this season, Smith was arguably the team’s best player, and now he’s gone. We’ll see how Poles and company compensate for his loss.

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