Proposed Trade Sees Steelers Dealing WR, Draft Pick for Bears’ Roquan Smith

Roquan Smith

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images Roquan Smith of the Chicago Bears on October 3, 2021.

On Thursday Aug. 9 Chicago Bears linebacker Roquan Smith publicly requested a trade, claiming that the organization’s “new front office regime doesn’t value me here” and that “they’ve refused to negotiate in good faith” on a contract extension. The high-profile request came via a letter shared by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, in which Smith elaborated on his reasons for wanting out of Chicago.

On August 10, Jason Lieser of the Chicago Sun-Times urged Bears general manager Ryan Poles to either trade Smith or sign him to a contract extension by the end of this coming weekend, calling the situation between player and team “untenable.”

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What Would Roquan Smith Fetch in a Trade?

Should Ryan Poles decide to go the trade route, “The market likely would dictate a best-case offer of a 2023 first- and third-round pick,” one source told Lieser.

That said, Joe Starkey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette proposed trading third-year wide receiver Chase Claypool and a second-round pick to the Bears in exchange for Smith.

“How about a package involving Diontae Johnson,” he added, proposing an alternative involving the fourth-year Steelers receiver who signed a two-year contract extension just last week.

It wasn’t all that long ago that such a trade would have seemed almost inconceivable, but the Steelers did give up a future first-round pick to acquire All-Pro free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick from the Miami Dolphins in 2019. And they made a lesser trade to try to address the position last summer, when they dealt a sixth-round pick for since-jettisoned linebacker Joe Schobert, who has had recent tryouts with several NFL teams — including the Denver Broncos and New Orleans Saints — but remains unsigned.

A complicating factor is that Smith — who is representing himself in negotiations, a la Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson — is seeking a lucrative contract extension. He’s entering the final year of the rookie contract he signed in 2018, which calls for him to be paid a salary of $9.735 million, as per overthecap.com.


What Does Roquan Smith Want to Be Paid?

During an appearance on 670 The Score in Chicago, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network indicated that “Roquan Smith is asking for more money than Darius Leonard,” who signed a five-year, $98.5 million deal with the Colts last August.

That’s a big commitment, but one that might be worth considering if Smith, 25, can be the long-term solution at the position — the solution the Steelers have been searching for since Ryan Shazier’s career came to a sudden end that fateful night in Cincinnati in December 2017.

Coming off two consecutive second-team All-Pro seasons, Smith’s recent history suggests he’d be up to the task. His stats communicate much the same feeling. Since the Bears drafted Smith No. 8 overall out of Georgia in 2018, de has appeared in 61 career games, with 59 starts. During those games he has recorded 524 total tackles (348 solo), including 43 tackles for loss, five interceptions, 14 sacks and 17 quarterback hits, according to Pro Football Reference.

Of course, a trade for Smith would likely mean the end of Devin Bush’s Steelers career. The former first-round pick is poised to become a free agent following the 2022 season, as the team declined his fifth-year option in May.

There’s also the possibility that Smith and the Bears will reconcile.

“Right now, my intentions are to sign Roquan to this team,” said Ryan Poles in the wake of Smith’s statement. “We’re gonna take it day by day, and at the end of the day, we’ve got to do what’s best for this organization. But my intentions are to make sure Roquan’s signed to this team,” he concluded.

That said, Smith did leave the door open to the possibility of Bears ownership stepping in to “salvage” the situation, “but as of right now I don’t see a path back to the organization I truly love,” he concluded.

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