Bears Change Stance on Trading Star Player, Insider Says

Ryan Poles

Getty Will Bears general manager Ryan Poles trade LB Roquan Smith?

Roquan Smith is one of the few attractive trade chips the Chicago Bears have left, but general manager Ryan Poles has said he has no intention to trading the fifth-year linebacker.

Things change though, and according to Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post, the Bears “remain open to the possibility of moving stud linebacker Roquan Smith, though his lack of a future contract makes that more difficult the closer we get to the deadline.”

La Canfora isn’t a top Bears insider, but he did report the team was planning on trading pass rusher Robert Quinn and that wound up happening, so it’s something to keep an eye on as the trade deadline approaches at 4 p.m. ET on November 1.

Smith, who leads the NFL in total tackles (83) through eight games, also has four tackles-for-loss, three quarterback hits, 2.5 sacks and two interceptions (stats via Pro Football Reference). He’s one of the top inside linebackers in the game, which is why it remains highly unlikely Chicago will trade him — at least this season.

Another Report Says Bears May Tag & Trade Roquan Smith in 2023

Trading Smith may prove difficult for Poles, not because the young LB isn’t talented, but because of his pending price tag. Smith has said he wants to be paid among the league’s best inside linebackers, and that’s going to cost $18-20 million a year.

Some top insiders around the league are saying Chicago could trade Smith, but it will likely happen next year after they have placed the franchise tag on him.

Here’s what NFL Network insiders Ian Rapoport, Tom Pelissero and Mike Garafolo had to say about the possibility of the Bears trading the young LB:

After Chicago traded Robert Quinn, eating most of his salary ($7.1 million) to get a fourth-round pick, all eyes turned to Chicago’s all-world linebacker. But Smith is different from Quinn. He is younger (25) and on a cheaper contract, and there remains the possibility he’s a part of the Bears’ future. Playing on the fifth-year option, Smith could be franchise tagged after this season, which seems like a strong possibility if no trade happens this week. But there is some interest and if Chicago wants to avoid the tag drama with a player who already has held in at training camp once, a trade would make sense to a few, select teams with a specific need.

La Canfora also noted that “some general managers think Smith will instead be a franchise tag-and-trade candidate in the offseason,” so that seems like the strongest possibility for the two-time second-team All-Pro right now.

Bears Insider Says Smith Could Be Tagged in 2023 & 2024

As for Smith, he says he’s not focused on a trade right now despite asking for one in August.

“I feel like I’m in the same head space that I was back when I asked [for a trade] — and that was declined,” Smith told Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times. “I shift my focus to just being the best guy I can to the guys in the locker room. The best guy to myself and to the loyal fans. And I just want to go out each and -every week and show that I’m the best in the game. That’s just been my thing.”

According to Finley, the Bears aren’t planning on trading Smith unless something random and unpredictable occurs.

“Barring a shocking development, they don’t figure to (trade Smith),” Finley reported on October 28. “At the least, the team can give Smith the franchise tag in 2023 and again in 2024, locking him in for two more years of his prime. Smith would prefer a long-term deal.”

How well he plays over the second half of the season will go a long way to determining whether he’ll get the deal he seeks. We’ll see what happens.

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