During the offseason Bears LB Roquan Smith held out and requested a trade due to him believing Chicago’s GM Ryan Poles was negotiating Smith’s contract in bad faith. This wasn’t the first time Smith had held out due to contract reasons. After being drafted the linebacker held out of camp until receiving a fully guaranteed offer by then-GM Ryan Pace. He went on to have a monster rookie season and quickly solidified himself as one of the best young linebackers in the game.
The lack of supporting cast around him completely put the onus on him this year and despite leading the league in tackles this season his overall play was extremely uneven. Smith figures to be a team guy and says all the right things at the podium, but it’s a fair question to ponder if the contract negotiations had a negative affect on him. Roquan has a deep love for Chicago, and the fans love him. It’s a shame things couldn’t be worked out.
The Bears will now be down two of their best players on defense after trading away their all-pro defensive end Robert Quinn last week. There will be massive veteran presence missing, but that presence and best player should be your franchise quarterback in today’s league. The Bears for the first time in their history recognize that and are addressing it in the best possible manner. Welcome to modern football, Bears fans.
Roquan’s Parting Gift
The two time All-Pro linebacker netted the Bears a 2023 second and fifth round draft picks as well as Baltimore linebacker AJ Klein. This figures to be a handsome return for Chicago considering there is a possibility that Baltimore may only keep him for the remainder of the year unless they can get a deal done in the offseason. Regardless for Chicago it is likely they burned that bridge and he would have left after the season for free. Poles did his job and made sure the Bears didn’t get caught with their pants down.
This move will now give the Bears nine draft picks, including eight picks in the first five rounds. Albert Breer breaks down the details on how the draft compensation will look. To go with all of those picks they will also have over $120M in cap space — this is how you break things down and build it back up. It’s not pretty, and it doesn’t feel great in the moment, but Ryan Poles is building sustainable success in Chicago. We will thank him later.
In a lot of ways this trade will help all three parties involved, just how much is to be determined, but I don’t think anyone walked away from that deal disappointed.
I wouldn’t be shocked in the slightest if the Ravens were to retain Roquan Smith for a longterm deal. They run a system he flourishes in and Baltimore has an incredibly rich linebacker history as well. Baltimore gives Roquan the best chance to succeed and make the big money that he wants.
Will Smith be the missing piece in a struggling defense? likely not since most of their issues are in the secondary, but he will be an upgrade to Patrick Queen and fill the gap in Josh Bynes’ absence. His presence will be welcomed, Roquan is a natural leader and the locker room will quickly gravitate toward him. Baltimore is getting a bonafide playmaker and leader. If the Ravens feel like they’re close to getting over the hump then this is a great deal for them in the short term and potentially long term.
Chicago wasn’t going to make the playoffs and they have a ton of holes to fill on the roster, so this move was a no-brainer. He is a major asset that likely wasn’t going to sign a longterm deal so it only makes sense to get what you can instead of letting him walk for nothing. Jed Hoyer should take notes.
What A Roquan Smith Departure Will Look Like On The Field For Chicago?
If you thought the Bears defense was a travesty in Dallas, wait and see what it’s going to look like without Smith out there. Things could get ugly on that side of ball for the remainder of the year, like Marc Trestman/Mel Tucker historically bad. If you can keep your head and stay focused on what the goal of this season is- to develop Fields into a franchise quarterback – then this should be a fun season the rest of the way given what we have seen from the offense over the last few weeks.
This will be a painful step in growth as a franchise. Sometimes you have to take a step back to move forward and that’s what the Bears did today. One of Bill Belichik’s best attributes in roster management is moving players a year early instead of a year late. Poles isn’t Belichik and Fields isn’t Brady, but if you are going to err on the side of caution that is the way you want to do it.
There is nobody on this roster that will compare to the production of Roquan Smith; he trails only Bobby Wagner in tackles since he came into the league and currently leads the league in tackles, but if Poles’ short track record says anything it’s that he can find some damn good talent through the draft. His free agent signings have left a lot to be desired, but he won’t be working with pennies this offseason like he had to last year.
All-in-all this trade made too much sense to make. The only shocking part was that a Bears GM had the gall to pull off a move like this instead of sitting on his hands and pushing the problem off. The Bears will suffer on the field in the short term, but not taking that offer could have potentially haunted them in the near future. The Ravens made a bold move and went after one of the best young linebackers in the league. Time will tell who got the better end of the deal, but no matter what I think it will be hard to say anyone got fleeced, especially given the current context of the Bears-Roquan Smith saga.
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