Top Bears Defender Requests Trade, Blames Front Office: Report

Roquan Smith

Getty Roquan Smith #58 of the Chicago Bears returns an interception for a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals at Soldier Field on September 19, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Bengals 20-17.

In a shocking twist to his contract “hold-in,” Chicago Bears linebacker Roquan Smith has requested a trade, according to NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport.

Rapoport shared a statement written by Smith, which lists the linebacker’s discontent with the contract extension offers he has received from first-year general manager Ryan Poles as a primary reason he’d like to be traded.

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Smith Blames Front Office for Not Negotiating in Good Faith

“I have officially requested a trade; just writing these words is deeply painful,” Smith wrote in the note shared by Rapoport. Smith mentioned the legendary legacy the team has at the linebacker position, and noted he has tried to live up to that standard.

“Walking the hallways the past four years, you can feel the spirit, you feel the pressure to live up to that timeless history, that great legacy,” he wrote. “I dreamed of playing like Wilbur Marshall, (Mike) Singletary, (Lance) Briggs, (Brian) Urlacher, (Dick) Butkus! Since the day I was drafted, I vowed to play this position at a level that upheld the standard that was set before me, to uphold that respect and honor, and I have. Unfortunately, the new front office regime doesn’t value me here.”

The former eighth overall pick out of Georgia then pointed the finger at Poles and the front office for what he perceives to be a lack of good faith in negotiations:

They refused to negotiate in good faith, every step of this journey has been ‘take it or leave it.’ The deal sent to me is one that would be bad for myself, and for the entire LB market if I signed it. I’ve been trying to get something done that’s fair since April, but their focus has been on trying to take advantage of me. I wanted to be a bear for my entire career, hope this team bring a Super Bowl back to our city. However they have left me no choice than to request a trade that allows me to play for an organization that truly values what I bring to the table I haven’t had a chance to talk to the McCaskey family, and maybe they can salvage this but as of right now I don’t see a path back to the organization I truly love.

Smith is one of the league’s best young linebackers, and he should garner the Bears a decent haul if the team decides to trade him. He did leave the door slightly open to stay, mentioning that he has yet to speak to the team’s owners, the McCaskey family, but as it stands, things don’t look good for Smith’s future in Chicago.

“I hope and pray you can all understand, I’m deeply sorry it has come to this,” Smith wrote to Bears fans.

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What Could Bears Get in Return for Smith?

Smith wants to get paid like one of the top LBs in the league, so any team looking to sign him must be willing to shell out some major ducats. Linebacker Darius Leonard of the Indianapolis Colts set the market, making an average of $19.7 million a year, per Spotrac, while C.J. Mosley of the New York Jets is the second-highest paid ILB in the league, making $17 million a season. Smith likely wants more than that, and he’ll get it.

The 6-foot-1, 232-pound Smith is the leader of Chicago’s defense, and he has amassed over 100 tackles in each of his first four seasons. He finished with a career-high 163 total tackles in 2021, and he added 3.0 sacks, three PBUs, 12 tackles-for-loss, an interception and a defensive touchdown in 17 games.

It will be interesting to see how Poles and company respond to Smith’s trade request. If they do decide to trade the young LB, getting at least a first-round pick in return seems like a definite possibility. According to Stacey Dales, the Bears are going to wait a bit to respond to Smith’s request.

We’ll see what happens next, but the ball is clearly in Poles’ court now.

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