Videos by OutKick
The summer just got hotter in Chicago.
That’s what happens when the Chicago Bears and one of their few consistent and dependable players do battle publicly over a contract negotiation. That’s what happens when that player tells the Earth he’s requesting a trade.
And that’s exactly what’s happening with linebacker Roquan Smith now.
Smith released a statement on Tuesday morning outlining a trade request. The statement was first released to the NFL Network but it was meant for consumption by Chicago and Bears fans.
And there was the requisite nostalgia about Smith’s youth and how he’s matured into a Bears linebacker steeped in the tradition of Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary, Brian Urlacher and others. There was a tone of wanting to play for the Bears his entire career.
But the greater point is that Smith is disappointed and possibly done with the approach of the team, particularly general manager Ryan Poles and the new front office, have taken in contract talks.
Smith said the front office “doesn’t value me.”
Smith accuses Poles of not negotiating “in good faith” and presenting “take it or leave it” offers during the negotiation that are “trying to take advantage of me.”
Ultimately, Smith said, “I don’t see a path back to the organization that I truly love.”
This is bad for the Bears — and not just because this team needs all the talent it can muster on the field to be merely mediocre.
It’s uncomfortable because how does the team answer? Does it present its side or simply take the incoming fire from Smith?
The greater message Smith’s statement sends the entire locker room can affect the season and everyone must understand that. So what to do?
Smith has been “holding in” since the start of training camp. He has reportedly been at the team’s facility every day but has not practiced. The Bears placed him on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
Everyone understands that. Teammates see their star off the ball linebacker sitting out and understand he’s conducting business.
But when Smith publicly pulls back the curtain on those negotiations as being wrong and unfair, you can bet the locker room notices.
So how will defensive end Robert Quinn respond, knowing the same Bears front office apparently giving Smith a rough time can cut or trade him and save nearly $13 million in salary cap space this year and more in the coming years?
What opinion will veteran safety Eddie Jackson have of a front office he knows can next year get rid of him at age 30 and save up to $27 million in cap space over the final two years of his contract?
And what will any of the Bears younger players think considering they might some day have representatives sitting across the table from the front office Smith just slimed?
It’s a sticky situation.
Adversarial contract situations often are when unhappy star players go public.
Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero
Inside Roquan Smith’s Trade Request with OutKick 360
More and more players are entering contract negotiations without an agent. Is this a new trend?