CHICAGO — Bears linebacker Roquan Smith said in a written statement that he requested a trade after contract negotiations between him and the organization reached an impasse.
Smith wrote a statement that was posted by NFL Network on social media on Tuesday. ESPN has confirmed the validity of these messages.
The linebacker wrote that the “new front office regime doesn’t value me here” after Smith said he’s been trying to work on an extension since April.
“You have refused to negotiate in good faith,” Smith wrote. “Every step of this journey was ‘take it or leave it’. The deal sent to me would be bad for me and the entire LB market if I signed it.”
Since the Bears drafted him eighth overall in 2018, the former Georgia standout has 14 sacks while recording at least 101 tackles and one interception in every season he has played. Smith is reported to be making $9.7 million in the final year of his rookie deal and was placed on the physically unfit list (PUP) when he reported to camp in late July.
Smith, 25, accused the Bears front office of “trying to take advantage of me” and that the organization “given me no choice but to apply for a trade that would allow me to play for an organization who genuinely values what I bring to the industry table.”
In April, Smith expressed confidence he would remain in Chicago long-term on a new contract, and attended optional workouts and mandatory mini-camps. In his statement, the linebacker said he wanted to stay with the Bears his entire career.
At the start of training camp, first-year general manager Ryan Poles, who expressed a desire to reach an agreement to extend Smith before the regular season, reached out to the team, which was not yet executing Smith’s new contract.
“My feelings about Roquan don’t change at all,” Poles said on July 26. “I love the player and the person. And that’s not going to change.”
Smith was a daily attendant at Halas Hall during training camp and was often seen riding a stationary bike during practice. Trainer Matt Eberflus noted his expectations for Smith in July while he remained on the PUP list.
“Stick with it, be a leader, be committed to what he’s doing and will do,” Eberflus said. “He’s a pro. He’s been in the league long enough. He’s a really good player. We’re excited to have him as the Chicago Bear. And he will do that.”
In his statement, Smith apologized to Bears fans but expressed little confidence that negotiations would change.
“I haven’t had a chance to speak to the McCaskey family and maybe they can salvage that, but right now I see no going back to the organization, which I really love,” Smith said.
https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/34373632/roquan-smith-requests-trade-chicago-bears Roquan Smith requests trade from Chicago Bears