In April, Roquan Smith expressed confidence that he and the Bears would come to terms on a new contract. That clearly isn’t the case now, as the veteran linebacker will not be participating in training camp when the Bears report Tuesday, according to NFL Network.
Smith is holding out after not receiving an acceptable offer from the team, per Ian Rapoport. Smith, who recorded a career-high 163 tackles last season, is slated to make $9.735 million — all guaranteed — this season after Chicago picked up his fifth-year option last spring.
When asked about his contract in the spring, Smith said his goal was to remain with the Bears, who in 2018 selected him with the eighth overall pick in the NFL draft. Over the past four years, Smith has evolved into one of the NFL’s premier linebackers. In 61 regular season games, Smith has tallied 524 tackles (43 for loss), 14 sacks, five interceptions and 17 passes defensed.
“It’s personal at the end of the day,” Smith said at the time, via NBC Sports Chicago. “All that business is more so my business upstairs. I’m confident we’ll get everything taken care of.
“My main focus is out on the field and doing what I have to do and bond better with my boys.”
Smith’s decision to hold out is understandable. His market value, according to Spotrac, is $88.12 million over five years for an annual salary of $17.64 million. That would make him the NFL’s third highest-paid inside linebacker, behind the Colts‘ Darius Leonard and the 49ers‘ Fred Warner.
New Bears general manager Ryan Poles has made several tough personnel decisions this offseason. The team parted ways with fellow linebacker Danny Trevathan and running back/kick return specialist Tarik Cohen (both players are currently free agents). The Bears elected not to re-sign offensive lineman James Daniels, who inked a two-year deal with the Steelers at the start of free agency. Chicago further made waves after trading linebacker Khalil Mack to the Chargers in exchange for multiple draft picks.
Chicago has another pending contract situation with running back David Montgomery, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract.
Chicago’s depth chart behind Smith includes Noah Dawkins and rookie C.J. Avery. A former member of the New York Jets, Dawkins has made three tackles in 17 regular season games. An extremely productive player at Louisville, Avery made 349 tackles in 59 games with the Cardinals.