The Chicago Bears defense is on the verge of reclaiming its identity. One bright spot of the 2022 offseason has been the overhaul of the secondary. Despite saying goodbye to Khalil Mack, the Bears have young depth on the edge. However, the Monsters of the Midway resurgence hinges on the linebacker position. Specifically, the focus falls on Roquan Smith.
Entering training camp, Smith has elected to sit out, awaiting a new contract. Steelers star edge rusher TJ Watt sent a similar message to his franchise last summer. Ultimately, Watt received a four-year, $112 million contract and went on to win Defensive Player of the Year.
Smith’s contract will likely fall in the ballpark of Darius Leonard’s $98.5 million deal with the Indianapolis Colts. So far, here is what we know about Smith’s situation:
- On Instagram, Smith posted a picture with the new orange helmet and the caption, “When The Smoke Clears 58 Gone Be There‼️”
- Smith does not have an agent. He is representing himself.
- Although he is sitting out practice, Smith will be at Halas Hall, studying up on the new system.
- Ryan Poles said resigning Smith is a top priority.
- The Bears will have the most salary-cap space in the league heading into 2023.
- Poles and Head Coach Matt Eberflus will have to face reporters Tuesday morning.
All signs point to a solid, long-term contract that keeps Smith in Chicago. Unlike many players around the league, Roquan doesn’t seem like he’s trying to be the highest-paid player at his position. Rather than playing 17 games under the cloud of an expiring contract, both parties benefit from getting a deal done soon.
Smith, Poles, and everyone else know the Bears have the capital. They also know what he brings to the defense and the franchise rebuild. Frankly, it’s puzzling why it’s still up in the air.
These contract negotiations will tell a lot about the culture Poles and Eberflus are creating. Smith could buy into the team’s future success, like Tom Brady, or collect as much cash as he can while the ship goes down.
Butkus, Singletary, and Urlacher played their entire careers in Chicago. Each left their mark on the history of the game and ended up in the Hall of Fame. Roquan Smith will go on to a legendary career, but time will tell if he joins the ranks of Chicago’s greats.