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Roquan Smith Returns to Bears Practice; Plans to Play out Contract amid Trade Request

Erin WalshAugust 20, 2022

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Chicago Bears linebacker Roquan Smith returned to training camp Saturday for the first time since it started, per Larry Mayer of the team website.

Smith has been seeking a long-term contract extension and has been holding out of practice. With negotiations seemingly at a standstill, he requested a trade from the Bears on Aug. 9.

Smith intends to play out his contract and will be "full go moving forward," NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Saturday.

"This is the last year of my deal and I’m going to bet on myself as I’ve always done," Smith said, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Adam Jahns @adamjahns

“I thought it was very distasteful.” — Bears LB Roquan Smith on the process of negotiating with the team.

The Bears expressed interest in making Smith the NFL's highest-paid linebacker earlier this summer. However, Rapoport reported Aug. 11 during an appearance on the Pat McAfee Show that Chicago's most recent offer to the veteran is considered "not a real highest-paid offer":

"They could make him the highest-paid linebacker in the NFL, which my understanding is their offer is, you know, is there. But it's not real, it's not a real highest-paid offer. ... It's like way backloaded, so like, you know, the last year has a high number and it makes the average high but it's not real. There's a couple things they've asked him to do in the deal that he does not want do."

When Smith made his trade request public, he wrote that he didn't feel valued by the Bears and that the franchise has "refused to negotiate in good faith."

"Every step of this journey has been 'take it or leave it.' The deal sent to me is one that would be bad for myself, and for the entire LB market if I signed it," Smith wrote.

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Bears?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Bears</a> All-Pro LB Roquan Smith has requested a trade. <a href="https://t.co/x4vmOMhROt">pic.twitter.com/x4vmOMhROt</a>

Bears general manager Ryan Poles told reporters after Smith made his trade request that the franchise would still try to negotiate a deal for the veteran and still believes he's a "very good football player":

"In terms of our philosophy in the front office, I've always believed and always will that we take care of our homegrown talent. We pay them, we take care of them, and we take everyone for what they've done and what they can become in the future. And with this situation, we've showed respect from a very early timeframe and with that said, there's record-setting pieces of this contract that I thought was going to show him the respect that he deserves, and obviously that hasn't been the case."

Smith is seeking a deal worth more than the five-year, $98.5 million deal Indianapolis Colts star Shaquille Leonard signed in August 2021, Rapoport reported during an appearance on 670 The Score on Aug. 9.

The Bears selected Smith eighth overall in the 2018 NFL draft. He has posted 14 sacks, five interceptions, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and 524 tackles in 61 games across four seasons in Chicago.

Last season, he recorded three sacks, one interception and 163 tackles in 17 games.

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