Bears star LB Smith requests trade after breakdown in talks
Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles plans to continue to work for a contract extension with linebacker Roquan Smith instead of his request to be traded.
Smith, who is under contract through the 2022 season, is staging a “hold-in” and attending practices without actually practicing until he gets an extension, but Tuesday he made public an official request for a trade.
“Right now my intentions are to sign Roquan to this team,” Poles said after the Bears held a Tuesday practice at Soldier Field. “And we’re going to take it day by day. 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 Smith’s on this team.”
Smith practiced with the team throughout the offseason voluntary and mandatory work, but was not participating on the field when training camp began.
“Unfortunately the new front office regime doesn’t value me here,” Smith wrote on Twitter. “They’ve refused to negotiate in good faith, every step of the journey has been ‘take it or leave it.’
“The deal sent to me is one that would be bad for myself and for the entire LB market if I signed it.’”
Smith does not have an agent and is trying to negotiate for himself.
“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.”
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Smith, the No. 8 overall draft pick in 2018, was second-team All-Pro in 2020 and 2021. He is entering the fifth and final year of his rookie contract.
The Bears made big changes after going 6-11 last season and missing the playoffs for the ninth time in 11 years. They fired general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy and replaced them with Poles and Matt Eberflus.
The Bears plan to use Smith as a weakside linebacker in their new 4-3 scheme.
“I’ll double down on what I’ve said before: My feelings for Roquan haven’t changed at all,” Poles said. “I think he’s a very good football player. I love the kid. I love what he’s done on the field, which makes me really disappointed with where we’re at right now.
“I thought we’d be in a better situation, to be completely honest with you.”
Smith said he hasn’t talked to team ownership. He left the door ajar for the McCaskey family to “salvage this.”
“But as of right now, I don’t see a path back to the organization I truly love,” he wrote.
Smith was on the sideline at the team’s Soldier Field practice Tuesday.
Poles said the fact Smith does not have an agent makes a deal tougher to achieve.
“It’s difficult,” Poles said. “There’s emotions involved and it’s tough. It’s a very unique situation that we’ve had to deal with and I thought we’ve done a pretty good job, which again that’s why I’m a little disappointed we’re at this spot.”
The Bears continue working at practice with Matthew Adams as the weakside linebacker. Eberflus said he speaks almost daily with Smith despite his “hold-in” status.
“There’s few things that surprise you,” Eberflus said. “You take it for what it is and you move forward, and that’s what you do. So I really didn’t have any reaction. I was disappointed in that but that’s where it is right now.
“We’re working forward. Ryan’s going to be working forward with Roquan, and we’ll see where it goes.”
NOTES: The Bears continue to work without wide receiver N’Keal Harry, who has an ankle sprain. There is no timetable on his return. There is also no timetable on the return of wide receiver Byron Pringle, who has a quad injury. During Tuesday’s practice they also had wide receiver David Moore leave with an unspecified injury. Wide receive Velus Jones Jr. is out with a minor injury and is day to day. ... Tackle Riley Reiff has been moved to right tackle and rookie Braxton Jones is taking most of the plays at left tackle with starters.
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