Bears News

What comes next for Bears after Roquan Smith trade?

2 years agoChris Emma

Five days ago, Roquan Smith broke down in tears after the Bears traded teammate Robert Quinn to the unbeaten Eagles. Now, he’s being dealt too. 

The Bears agreed to terms with the Ravens on a deal that will send Smith to Baltimore in exchange for a 2nd- and 5th-round pick, ESPN first reported. 

As he showed those genuine emotions last Wednesday while sitting before reporters at Halas Hall, perhaps it hit the 25-year-old Smith that he could be next out the door. It was always a likelihood after contract negotiations with the Bears broke down in August. 

Smith coveted a $100-million deal that would reset the market for an off-ball linebacker. Bears general manager Ryan Poles was willing to present an offer with “record-setting pieces” as he explained, but he wasn’t willing to overpay with premium salary for a non-premium position. 

Poles recognized the Bears’ need to address other aspects of this roster. 

“We can’t lose sight that this isn’t about one player,” Poles said in August. “My job is about building a roster that’s going to sustain success for a long period of time. And at the end of the day, we got to do what’s best for the Chicago Bears.”

Smith publicly requested a trade from the Bears on Aug. 9, taking his frustrations with Poles and the organization into a brighter spotlight. These negotiations became increasingly complex because Smith chose to represent himself and not work with a union-certified agent. But despite Poles viewing these contract talks as “emotional,” he was hopeful a deal would be reached. That never came to fruition as Smith elected to halt negotiations on Aug. 20 and focus on the season. 

It led Poles to the decision made Monday that the Bears simply didn’t have a viable contract future to be agreed upon with Smith. The franchise tag was always an option for 2023, which would’ve paid Smith a projected $18.7 million. But that’s a short-term solution that only would’ve pushed back contract uncertainty. 

The Bears (3-5) are focused on building for their future under the watch of Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus. They have the youngest roster in the NFL and hope to contend for the postseason starting in 2023. 

Could Bears running back David Montgomery be the next player dealt? He’s playing the final season of his rookie contract and seems unlikely to be re-signed this offseason. Poles has already shown he won’t overpay at positions that don’t merit great value. Meanwhile, second-year running back Khalil Herbert received more carries (16) than Montgomery (15) during Sunday’s 49-29 loss to the Cowboys. Trading Montgomery only fits the Bears’ direction, so why should Poles stop now?

After reaching the deal for Smith, the Bears now have nine selections for the 2023 NFL Draft: a 1st, two 2nds, a 3rd, two 4ths, two 5ths and a 7th. Chicago also has more than $125 million in projected cap space at its disposal. 

Poles has already turned over more than half the roster he inherited when hired by the Bears back in January. The real work begins this offseason as Poles works to build this team towards sustained success. 

The Bears are well positioned as they build for the future. It’s on Poles to turn that potential into proof.

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