NFL training camp 2022: Bears LB Roquan Smith requests trade

·3-min read

Roquan Smith wants out.

The Chicago Bears linebacker officially requested a trade Tuesday, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. In a statement posted by Rapoport, Smith wrote that the new front office, led by general manager Ryan Poles, "doesn't value" him and has "refused to negotiate in good faith" while he looks for a new contract.

"... every step of this journey has been 'take it or leave it,'" Smith wrote. "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, help 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."

Rapoport added in a follow-up tweet that Smith was "offended" by the Bears' offer because it was backloaded – meaning he wouldn't see a lot of money until later – and it "proposed de-escalators that not a single player out of the 94 non-quarterback, $15M-plus contracts has."

In response to Smith's trade request, Poles said Tuesday the offer the Bears made was respectful and that his "intentions are to make sure Roquan is on the team."

That statement isn't as profound as it sounds considering how many other teams used iterations of the word "intent" when discussing players who're unhappy with their current situations. Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said the team had "no intention" of trading quarterback Russell Wilson in March, only for him to be dealt to the Denver Broncos a few days later.

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Roquan Smith is ready to leave Chicago. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Roquan Smith is ready to leave Chicago. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Smith's market

Smith, 25, has already been holding out for a new contract during training camp, where he's attended but not participated in practices. He's in the final year of his rookie contract and is scheduled to make $9.735 million in guaranteed salary. Smith has been a tackling machine since the Bears drafted him eighth overall out of Georgia in 2018 with 524 combined tackles and 14 sacks in four seasons.

The market for Smith could be lucrative if he's seeking to become one of the highest-paid players at his position. He's one of only five linebackers with at least 500 combined tackles since 2018 and three of the four – Shaquille Leonard, Zach Cunningham and Fred Warner – all signed new deals within the past year that pay them an average annual salary between $14.5 million-$19.7 million.

So, it makes sense why Smith wants to secure his financial future with a long-term extension in the same ballpark as his peers. However, it also makes sense why the Bears would be unwilling to meet his demands given their position in the league.

Poles already traded away six-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker Khalil Mack this offseason, let receiver Allen Robinson walk and did nothing to upgrade the team around second-year quarterback Justin Fields. A team doesn't do all those things just to pay for an off-ball linebacker. The Bears have also reportedly received trade calls on second-year tackle Teven Jenkins and veteran pass-rusher Robert Quinn is also reportedly been a part of trade rumors while he skips practice.

The Bears look like a mess, and Smith appears finished with trying to play in it.