Chicago Bears, Roquan Smith create big drama over contract talks

Roquan Smith, Chicago Bears - Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports
Roquan Smith, Chicago Bears - Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Chicago Bears are in a drama with Roquan Smith over contract talks. Is there an amicable resolution or are there irreconcilable differences?

Well, there is plenty of drama in the Chicago Bears training camp. There is the situation with offensive lineman Teven Jenkins and whether or not he gets traded. That dominated the news as training camp opened. He finally showed up for practice but his status on the team is still unknown as the team is fielding trade calls for him.

That situation was put on the back burner, however. A bigger drama ensued as training camp progressed. Linebacker Roquan Smith is in the final season of his rookie deal. He has been one of the top linebackers in the league and is now looking to cash in on that.

Talks between Smith and the Chicago Bears were thought of as moving forward slowly but surely. General manager Ryan Poles said it was his top priority to re-sign Smith.

However, things exploded in recent days. Smith showed up for the start of training camp but did not practice. Since he is under contract, if he refuses to practice the Bears could fine him at least $40,000 per day.

Instead of doing that, Poles decided to place Smith on the Physically Unable to Perform list. That means he could show up and not practice without worrying about a fine.

Things continued that way through training camp until earlier this week. Smith went public with his frustrations about the lack of progress. He went so far as to accuse Poles of negotiating in bad faith. He said Poles gave him a series of “take it or leave it” offers. Additionally, he said the new regime didn’t value him and tried to take advantage of him.

As a result, Smith said he had no other choice but to request a trade to a team that would value him. He felt that the situation was too far off and that perhaps the only way to come to a resolution is by having Chicago Bears Chairman of the Board Geroge McCaskey step in and help.

After the request, Poles reiterated he loved Smith and wanted to re-sign him. He then went out and took his own shot. He activated Smtih from the PUP list. That meant that he now had to show up to practice or risk the hefty daily fine.

Well, Smith responded. He showed up at camp and went to the trainer’s room. After a few minutes, he emerged wearing a cap, his jersey, and shorts. Nope, he showed up but he still would not practice.

Now we have a game of chicken going on between the Bears and Smith, with the rest of the league watching. With Smith’s abilities, there will be plenty of suitors wanting his services.

What are the roadblocks to a new deal for Roquan Smith and the Chicago Bears?

Apparently, Smith is looking to be the highest-paid linebacker in the NFL. That title currently belongs to the Indianapolis Colts’ Shaquille Leonard. He has an average of $19.7 million per season. Smith is looking for something around five years, $100 million.

Poles said he made a fair offer to Smith, though the numbers weren’t publicized. However, Rapoport reported that the deal was filled with back-end “fake money” which meant it was money Smith likely would never see.

Smith felt that the contract would be bad not only for him but also for the linebacker market. He said he did not want to do that.

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Is there a resolution to be had in this situation, or is the mistrust just too much? Additionally, does this game make the Bears look bad enough that future free agents will question coming to Chicago? We shall see. Now wouldn’t this be something great for Hard Knocks?