The Chicago Bears have done a tremendous job in turning over the roster in just one offseason under new general manager Ryan Poles, and 2022 is all about figuring out what pieces of the current roster is fit to be a part of the future of the franchise. There are several young players that will be under contract after this season is over, but the face of the defense, Roquan Smith, is entering the final year on his rookie contract.
Since the Bears picked up his fifth-year option he’ll be making $9,735,000 in 2022, but a contract extension could alter that figure, and per a recent article on ESPN from Jeremy Fowler, that could happen very soon.
“Expect talks between the Bears and Smith to heat up some time this summer,” Fowler writes in the Insider piece. “Even other Bears players close to free agency believe Smith is the priority for Chicago and new GM Ryan Poles.”
While many teams are passing on paying inside linebackers top dollar, Smith is a rare player at his position that fits perfectly into the moden NFL. He’s not only a tackling machine, but his coverage skills are top notch.
He’s only missed 4 games in his 4 year career while averaging 131 tackles per season, with 43 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, 5 interceptions, and 17 passes defended, while being named a 2nd-Team All-Pro the last two years.
“Smith has worked his way into top-10 linebacker status thanks to versatility and production,” Folwler continues. “With the top of the linebacker market approaching $20 million annually, Smith should push that number. He doesn’t have an agent and will essentially negotiate on his own behalf, but he showed up to offseason workouts as a sign of good faith.”
The 25-year old Smith has plenty of great football in front of him, and he should thrive in the new defensive scheme the Bears are putting in.