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Breaking Down Roquan Smith's Trade Request

Roquan Smith tackling Hunter Renfrow
Oct 10, 2021; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Chicago Bears inside linebacker Roquan Smith (58) tackles Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Hunter Renfrow (13) during a game at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Roquan Smith of the Chicago Bears publicly requested a trade from the team on Tuesday. The reigning All-Pro linebacker stated his frustration with the team's contract negotiations is the reason for requesting the trade.

The 25-year-old Smith is entering the final year of his rookie deal. Smith also released a statement this morning via Ian Rapoport's Twitter providing details on his frustration, while also leaving the door open for an extension.

The 33rd Team's Joe Banner lays out an interesting point when it comes to Smith and the Bears.

"We live in a growing era of player empowerment," Banner said. "A good player on a bad team always had leverage but only recently did they ever use it."

Banner added that the team must "stay firm" in negotiations.

Smith's Reasons for a Trade

Every player who is getting an extension wants to be compensated fairly, when you are one of the best at your position it adds an additional wrinkle.

In 2021, Smith was fifth in the NFL with 160 Combined Tackles (the next closest Bears player had 84). He was tied for 15th in the NFL with 14 TFL (the next closest Bears player had seven). He was second on the Bears in Pressure % at 13.1 behind Khalil Mack. He was 10th among linebackers in the NFL at -0.25 EPA/Target Allowed with min. 10 targets, and he was 16th among linebackers in the NFL with 18.14 Pass Coverage Total Points Saved with min. 10 target.

Smith wants to be one of highest paid linebackers in the league, he feels he has earned that. Among the reporting from Ian Rapoport, Smith has made it clear he is having a hard time dealing with several things with the Bears. He states he has lost trust in the team because he thinks they are taking advantage of him. Rapoport adds Smith feels this entire time the Bears have tried to strong-arm him.

Ari Meirov of PFF points out that Smith is also representing himself in these negotiations.

It is also been reported the deals have been backloaded in terms of pay. The proposed deals they have discussed wouldn’t make him the highest paid in actual salary. He adds the proposed de-escalators in the deals are nowhere else in the other 94 non-quarterback deals of $15 million or more. Smith stated his main concern is he would set the entire linebacker market back if he takes the deal on the table.

What is Next for the Bears and Smith?

Training camp is in full swing and preseason games are right around the corner. The 33rd Team's Mike Tannenbaum shares his thoughts on how he would feel if he were the Chicago Bears. Tannenbaum states he would feel, "disappointed that we have to deal with a distraction in camp." He goes on to add "I would work hard to figure out how to make him happy and fulfilled."

That last part is the most crucial, this situation is clearly still salvageable.

If the Bears can sit down with Smith and close the gap it would be good for all parties. Tannebaum acknowledges Smith is a "good young player." The Bears have a new staff in place with a defensive-minded head coach. Keeping one of their star defenders would go a long way to the rebuild the team is facing.

"The situation is interesting," said T.J. McCreight, The 33rd Team's Director of Scouting. "You have an elite player at a position that is not valued. GMs want scoring, pass rush or players that cover wide receivers. I was with Ray Lewis and he changed games, but the rules are different now. You can’t run all over the field knocking people's blocks off. I would be very concerned about losing his presence and leadership, though. You have to weigh that in your decision."