No real winners in Ravens-Bears blockbuster Roquan Smith trade

Bears, Roquan Smith. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Bears, Roquan Smith. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Nobody can say the 2022 NFL trade deadline was boring. We’ve had some massive deals go down, including deals for Christian McCaffrey and now Chicago Bears linebacker Roquan Smith. Pardon me, that’s the NFL’s leading tackler Roquan Smith. Smith has been traded to the Baltimore Ravens in perhaps the biggest deal that will go down just before the NFL’s trade deadline on Tuesday, November 1.

The trade was reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, but were there actually any winners of this trade overall? This deal went down between a rookie GM in Ryan Poles and a savvy veteran GM in Eric DeCosta of the Ravens. Let’s take a look at the terms.

Who won the Roquan Smith trade between the Ravens and Bears?

From the Chicago Bears‘ perspective, this opens the door for literally anything to happen in 2023 NFL free agency. Is that really what this team wants, though? The Bears can be as active as they want in free agency. The reality is, the best projected free agents rarely make it to free agency. Those that make it to free agency typically make it to free agency for a reason and/or are old.

Does GM Ryan Poles really want to build his roster through free agency? He’s set himself up to have to do so just to reach the NFL’s salary cap floor. The Bears are projected to have close to $120 million in salary cap space. Now, they have 10 projected draft picks on top of that.

The Bears could have paid Roquan Smith — easily — and kept a core player around. Apparently, they are more comfortable with whatever they are going to get in free agency. It will be interesting to monitor whether the Bears are players on next offseason’s linebacker market and how much different the final cost is for Roquan Smith when all is said and done.

Speaking of, the Baltimore Ravens made a trade for Smith and understandably so, to a degree. Their defense has not been good this year, and it looks like Patrick Queen may not have been who they thought he was coming out of LSU. This move could potentially kill two birds with one stone, making the Ravens’ defense better while also taking some pressure off of Queen.

Whatever the case, the Ravens just made a play for a player who demanded a trade for contractual reasons in the first place. In a one-year window, having a player like Roquan Smith is fun for the Ravens, but your superstar quarterback:

  • Needs a new contract
  • Will become arguably the highest-paid NFL QB of all-time
  • Needs WR help desperately

Why did the Ravens invest this kind of draft capital into the linebacker position when there are supposedly receivers available for the right price? Why did Baltimore acquire a linebacker who probably wants $20 million per year when they are going to have to pay their quarterback $50 million per year?

None of this adds up. This is a bad trade by the Bears because they apparently wouldn’t trade Roquan Smith in the offseason for anything but a first-round pick. This is a bad trade for the Ravens all-around, aside from the impact Smith can have on the field in 2022. This is a bad trade for Roquan Smith because he goes from one team not wanting to pay a linebacker to another team that has bigger contract issues and other pressing needs beyond this season.

Maybe everything will work out and the Ravens will give Smith a long-term deal. For the time being, though, this trade just reeks of settling by the Bears and a short-term investment for the Ravens.