The Chicago Bears announced Tuesday that they exercised the fifth-year option on linebacker Roquan Smith, which will keep him under contract through the next two seasons.
It doesn't come as much of a surprise that the Bears picked up Smith's fifth-year option. The 24-year-old has been excellent in his three seasons, accumulating 361 tackles (31 for loss), 11 sacks, 13 quarterback hits, four interceptions, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
He's more than justified Chicago's decision to select him with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2018 draft.
But his excellent 2020 season (139 tackles, four sacks, two interceptions) ended in disappointment when an elbow injury kept him out of the team's 26-23 Wild Card loss to the New Orleans Saints. Heading into that game, head coach Matt Nagy praised Smith and told reporters his loss would be a big one:
“He's playing at a dominant level. He's not just playing like a good player or a great player; there's complete domination in the way he's playing. He's playing on another level. Whoever the next guy up that has to step up and go in there and do their thing, it's our job as coaches to know and see that and work around that and work to that player's strengths. And you can't say that that player is Roquan, because they're not, so you've got to work to that player's strengths. Then it's the other 10 players around that have to be able to do the same thing.”
While Smith wasn't a Pro Bowler in 2020 or a first-team All-Pro selection (he did make the second team), it seems likely that honors and awards are forthcoming in his young career. The Bears found a keeper in Smith.