Chicago Bears linebacker Roquan Smith returned to practice today at Halas Hall, this according to Zack Pearson and the rest of the Bears’ beat simultaneously after practice, so it would seem Smith’s weeks-long hold-in is now over.
The two-time second-team All-Pro has been attending all of Chicago’s training camp practices and even their two preseason games, but only as an observer. He was able to stay engaged with his teammates and take mental reps on the sideline, but he didn’t actually get on the field until today.
He had limited participation at practice as he seemingly will be in a ramp-up to get ready, much like what we saw the Bears do when offensive lineman Teven Jenkins returned to practice after he missed some time at the start of camp.
Unhappiness over not reaching an agreement on a contract extension and a public trade demand left Smith’s future as a Bear in doubt, so it will be interesting to hear the latest today when he and head coach Matt Eberflus meet the media.
Roquan’s current contract has one year remaining for $9,735,000, but rumors have persisted that he’s seeking around $20 million per season.
The Bears have one more preseason game on Saturday, August 27, against the Cleveland Browns, and then they’ll have two weeks before they open the 2022 regular season by hosting the San Francisco 49ers.
UPDATE: The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, who had the initial trade demand news, reported that Smith intends to play the 2022 season on his current contract, saying, “He’ll be full go moving forward.”
UPDATE: Smith was emotional at his press conference as he indicated that negotiations are no longer taking place on a new deal, that their contract talks were “very distasteful, to say the least,” that the Bears denied his request to be traded, that his focus is now solely on playing the best he can for the 2022 season, and that he’s “betting on myself.”
His full press conference can be seen here, and it’s worth a listen to get the full context behind his statements.
Head coach Matt Eberflus met the media, and as expected, there were plenty of questions about Roquan.