The Smith Holdout is still going, and with lots of NFL pundits giving their opinions and sharing what they have learned from their sources, there are a lot of conflicting stories and opinions out there about the only pick in the 2018 draft who has yet to sign. We decided to do a round-table and share our thoughts on the issue, broken down in a three-part Q&A session.
And here’s our second in this mini-series...
Who do you think has more to lose and why?
Lester: I think the player has more to lose. The Bears will go on being the Bears, but if Smith holds out he’ll lose money. He’ll lose valuable time to get acclimated to the pro game. Then again, if he’s the player the Bears drafted him to be, this holdout will be quickly forgotten.
Patti: That doesn’t mean I think Roquan is a pawn. To answer Josh’s second question, the person with the most to lose is Smith, both in terms of losing time during the holdout and in terms of the potential loss if this language comes into play. As someone who’s spent a lot of my life worried about financial security--probably something most of us relate to--I would feel a variety of emotions finding out first that I was guaranteed 19 million dollars and then second that that “guaranteed” money could be taken away from me. Included in that mix would certainly be some fear and some anger at the idea someone wanted to reserve the right to void my “guaranteed” money. I can imagine telling my agent to do whatever they can to make sure that guaranteed lives up to its name. I don’t blame Roquan for doing what he feels is best for himself in this situation where he has the most to lose. I also think he’s making the wrong choice: that he’s likely to lose more from holding out than he could gain from removing contract language that will probably never be enacted.
The thing that maybe frustrates me most about the Bears is I believe they will do the right thing in a situation that comes up, as they’ve shown with Danny Trevathan last year. In Zach Miller’s case, they showed generosity beyond what’s expected. They’re just being stubborn about whether they get to retain the option to do the wrong thing (by which I mean voiding Roquan’s guarantees).
Eric: Roquan Smith. And what’s tough about this situation, is I personally do not believe any of the aforementioned back-and-forth has been caused directly by him, either. The more practices and time he misses, the greater his learning curve will be versus the rest of the ILB depth chart. Kwit has also looked impressive in his time with the starters, which will make it harder for Smith to knock him off for the regular season. Remember, Smith is currently the #2 projected player at MLB according to their initial depth chart. And Vic Fangio isn’t exactly “charitable” with reps or playing time. He’ll have to impress if he wants the figurative nod as a week one starter.
Robert: It’s not close: Smith has far more to lose. Not only in long term earning potential of whatever is in the Bears’ current contract structure that makes him apprehensive, but in losing experience that could slant his early rookie development. You never know, this could be the only contract Smith has in the NFL. Crazier things have happened. The longer he sits out and is forced to eventually unfortunately concede, the worse off he’s going to be. That doesn’t make his personal stance any less valid, though. It’s just that he has more to risk by reneging.
If the Bears can persevere through 30-plus years of ineptitude and still somehow maintain fervent (and mostly blind) support, they can withstand the fallout from a holdout like Smith’s. Make no mistake: they know that.
Aaron: Roquan without a doubt.
Worst case for the team, the Bears forfeit their pick (of him). Worst case for Smith, he goes back into the draft next year and is lucky to be taken in the bottom of the first, losing out on $5-10M.
It hurts both sides but not playing for a year, on top of this entire situation, plus losing sizable money is a much bigger loss for him than the team.
Andrew: Smith has everything to lose and virtually nothing to gain by this. By all accounts, he’s a standup guy and this behavioral language isn’t something that should affect him. As it stands now, he has a difficult road to unseat Nick Kwiatkoski as the starter for after the bye week, let alone week 1.
Sure, Smith can sit out the season, but what does he lose by doing so? How many millions of dollars does he waste? At this point he’s almost out of leverage and he has to know that.
Josh: Smith. If Smith doesn’t sign, then the Bears have done a much better job of damage control than CAA, and Pace actually strangely wins again. If this year goes badly, Pace and company can always point to Smith and CAA, blaming them and their distraction and/or selfish ways for a slow start. More than that, it’s a laundry league. Fans typically cheer for jerseys, not players, and so the fans will back the organization. Most fans certainly seem to have already decided in this case, and the coaching staff knows who is signing the checks.
Jack: Smith, easily. The Bears are the Bears. On an organizational level, they’re one of the most valuable franchises in the league ($2.85 billion as of last year, per Forbes). At a team level, we’re allegedly all supposed to be tickled pink this season if our beloved Bears manage to merely reach .500. All’s well in the halls of Halas.
CAA will be fine too. Along with their other interests, the agency represents so many top-flight football players that Roquan Smith is not even among the 30 NFL stars — current and former — listed on the website.
Smith stands to lose playing time, coaches’ trust, skills, endorsement opportunities and goodwill of fans and reporters, and that’s without even considering what he might lose if his side buckles in this now contentious, neverending negotiation.
That’s part two, stay tuned for the third and final part in this round-table Roquan Smith discussion soon. If we’re lucky, this article will be outdated as soon as it goes up, but we’re not going to count on it.
In case you missed part one, check it out here, WCG Talks The Roquan Smith Holdout: Part 1 - Who do you blame?