The Chicago Bears picked up the fifth year option on inside linebacker Roquan Smith back in May in what was a no-brainer of a decision. The 24-year old was coming off the best season of his three year career with a second team All-Pro nod, and he’s just scratching the surface of what he can be in leading the Bears defense.
Now that the market has been reset with recent contracts for the 49ers Fred Warner (5-year, $95.2M, $40.5M guaranteed) and the Colts Darius Leonard (5-year, $99.25M, $52.5M guaranteed), Smith’s $6 million cap hit in 2021 and fifth year hit of $9.75 in 2022 will seem like a bargain once the Bears give him some new paper.
And they will be giving him some new paper at some point, right?
Smith provides something that is desperately needed in today’s NFL, the ability to cover, so I can’t see the Bears letting Smith get away. Plus you factor in that Ryan Pace has never re-signed one of his first round draft picks to a second contract, and I have a feeling we’ll be seeing #58 running around for the next several years.
But just how good is Roquan in coverage?
When it comes to off-ball linebackers there are none better.
Quantifying off-ball LBs can be tough, partially because they play a role in coverage, run stop and pass rush.— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) August 9, 2021
Here's a plot getting at all 3. Run Stop Win Rate (x) by EPA per coverage snap allowed (y), with color indicating Pass Rush Win Rate. Up/Right/Red = good.
Some notes: pic.twitter.com/KAFhiSRFC0
Smith being color coded in the red means he also excelled when rushing the passer on blitzes. Walder’s data isn’t all good for the Bears, because the worst off-ball linebacker in the league last year also played in the Windy City.
But just in case the fancy plot point graph isn’t your thing, ESPN’s Next Gen Stats broke it down with the familiar passer rating, and look at the only linebacker in that group of defensive backs in this Tweet.
A bunch of cornerbacks and Roquan Smith pic.twitter.com/Uj63qQSzBh— DaWindyCity Productions (@dwcprodz) August 9, 2021
Do you guys expect the Bears to ink Roquan to a new deal at some point?