Star linebacker Roquan Smith announced Tuesday that he has requested a trade from the Chicago Bears.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport tweeted a statement written by Smith:
Smith called playing for the Bears a dream come true and wrote that he had wanted to be with the team for his entire career, but his perspective changed because of contract negotiations.
Smith said the Bears have "refused to negotiate in good faith" and that the organization's "focus has been on trying to take advantage of me."
The 25-year-old linebacker added that while he hasn't yet spoken to ownership about his situation and is wondering if they could "salvage" things, he doesn't "see a path back" to the Bears as of now.
Smith, who was the No. 8 pick in the 2018 NFL draft out of Georgia, is set to enter the final year of his rookie contract in 2022 after the Bears exercised the fifth-year option in his deal.
Although he hasn't received a Pro Bowl nod or first-team All-Pro selection during his NFL career, Smith has been a second-team All-Pro each of the past two seasons and has undoubtedly played at an elite level.
He has finished with 100 or more tackles in each of his four NFL campaigns, giving him 524 in 61 career games, as well as 14 sacks and five interceptions.
In 2020, Smith recorded 139 tackles, four sacks and a career-high two interceptions, and he followed that up last season with a career-high 163 tackles to go along with three sacks and one pick, which he returned for a touchdown.
Even at a young age, Smith has been the leader of the Chicago defense, and that was set to be even truer in 2022 given the significant personnel changes that have taken place.
The Bears traded star pass-rusher Khalil Mack to the Los Angeles Chargers, while defensive Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman, Alec Ogletree and Danny Trevathan are also gone from last year's team.
If the Bears decide to honor Smith's trade request, many teams are likely to line up for the chance to acquire one of the NFL's top linebackers.
ESPN's Mike Clay listed the Baltimore Ravens, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots and Denver Broncos as teams that could make the most sense in a trade scenario.
Smith has played well enough to earn a contract in line with the best linebackers in the league. While it seemed likely that the Bears would be the ones to give it to him, they'll have to do damage control in order to convince him to stick around.