Roquan Smith made his frustrations public last week about contract issues. So where does this leave Chicago and Roquan Smith?
Roquan Smith versus the Chicago Bears has been a long time coming. It could be viewed as the remnants of a seemingly dead, toxic franchise oligarchy sticking its hand through the grave and rearing its ugly, zombie head again. The Smith contract negotiation conversation should have been easy, he’s the best player on a terrible team, with that statement normally being a low bar to hurdle. Smith is one of the best defensive players in the entire NFL. The way the often-charitable Roquan Smith had to go public with his complaints can be looked at as his way of taking care of himself, but the trade request, notes app statement, and media mouthing could also be understood as a message.
Roquan Smith Set Off Panic In Chicago, But How Do They Respond?
Smith put General Manager Ryan Poles and the entire Bears front office on notice. He drew a line in the sand on his contract demands. He’s earned the right to do this. Smith was a top ten pick in the NFL draft, has been above and beyond a stand-up person for the franchise, and a monster on the field. With the loss of an older leader in Khalil Mack, Smith should have been paid as an example for what this new front office intends this team to look like, and how current or potential players can be expected to be treated. Instead, the neighbors heard the newlyweds arguing, and the dirty laundry is hung outside.
How can Poles fix this? it’s very easy, just pay the man. It’s simple but also complex, call it a nuanced situation. There’s something to be said about not paying linebackers. The linebacker position is essentially the running back of the defense. Economically or analytically, it’s not suitable to spend top-market money on these positions. That’s something that’s been reflected in free agency and extensions in the past. Looking past that though, Smith should be paid as a matter of principle. He’s young, he’s talented and it sets a precedent for other young and talented players on this roster. Roquan Smith can develop into a defensive player of the year award winner.
The cap does not exist. It’s just money who cares. Also, the cap is due to go up by approximately $18-20 million dollars a year every year. The Bears have a ton of cap space, but what are they saving it for? The Chicago Bears have the sixth most cap space in the NFL at this moment. Look at the recent linebacker contract extensions. The last two big-money contract contracts signed by young linebackers were under $100 million dollars total. In 2021, Fred Warner (25) and Darius Leonard (26) signed nearly identical deals, apart from guarantees. They both agreed to five-year-deals with $95 and $98 million totals respectively. That breaks down to just under $20 million dollars a year. Smith had more tackles, sacks, and interceptions than Warner and Leonard had last year AND he’s younger than them both. A five-year contract worth around $120 million dollars would be a no-brainer extension for a worthy player.
Any NFL fan would tell you Smith is deserving of a contract extension. Any NFL fan would tell you they know he deserves one. The Bears can afford to give him one and there is no plausible reason they shouldn’t. Pay the man Poles, and don’t let the previous franchise’s poison seep back through the floorboards of Halas Hall.
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