Bears Rookie Roquan Smith Holding Out from Training Camp Due to Contract

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJuly 16, 2018

Chicago Bears linebacker Roquan Smith (58) talks to the media before during practice at the NFL football team's workout Tuesday, June 5, 2018, in Lake Forest, Ill. (AP Photo/David Banks)
David Banks/Associated Press

Chicago Bears first-round pick Roquan Smith will not be at training camp Monday with his fellow rookies as he holds out to finalize his contract.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported the linebacker has decided to not attend until he and the team can agree on a deal.        

Smith, 21, is one of 14 first-round picks remaining without a contract. His deal is subject to the NFL's rookie scale, so the holdup likely has to do with negotiating offset money. Because the contract is guaranteed, teams typically set up some level of offset in case they release a player and he signs with another team.

The Bears signed six of their seven draft picks back in May. Their expedited process made it seem like only a matter of time before Smith would follow suit, but more than two months later, he's still without a deal.

Whatever the reason for that, his sitting out of camp isn't helping anyone. The Bears were planning to rely on the Georgia product to shore up their pass rush. He recorded 137 total tackles and 14 sacks during a brilliant junior season, winning the Butkus Award and earning consensus All-America honors.

Training camp, while sometimes overlong and unnecessary for veterans, is vital for young players making the transition. Stories of holdouts gone bad are innumerable throughout NFL history; rookie deals were put in place in part to limit the potential of them.

It's unclear if any of the players yet to sign their deals will also be holding out, but the Bears have to be uneasy with Smith not showing up with his fellow rookies.