- Covered the 49ers, Raiders and Warriors for the San Jose Mercury News. She joined ESPN in 2017.
CHICAGO — Bears linebacker Roquan Smith said in a written statement that he has requested a trade after contract negotiations between himself and the organization reached an impasse.
Smith penned a statement that was posted to social media by NFL Network on Tuesday. ESPN has confirmed the validity of these messages.
The 25-year-old linebacker wrote that the “new front office regime doesn’t value me here,” after Smith says he had been trying to work on an extension since April.
“They’ve refused to negotiate in good faith,” Smith wrote. “Every step of this journey has been ‘take it or leave it.’ The deal sent to me is one that would be bad for myself, and for 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 an interception in each season he’s played. Smith was set to earn $9.7 million on the final year of his rookie deal and was placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list when he reported to camp in late July.
Smith accused the Bears’ front office of “trying to take advantage of me,” and that the organization “left me no choice than to request a trade that allows me to play for an organization that truly values what I bring to the table.”
In April, Smith expressed confidence that he would remain in Chicago long term with a new deal and was a full participant during voluntary workouts and mandatory minicamp. In his statement, the linebacker said that wanted to be with the Bears for his entire career.
At the start of training camp, first-year general manager Ryan Poles, who expressed a desire to reach an agreement on an extension for Smith before the start of the regular season, addressed the team not yet executing a new deal for Smith.
“My feelings for Roquan don’t change at all,” Poles said July 26. “I love the player and the person. And that won’t change. The one thing I’ll ask everyone here, I know I’m going to get a lot of questions and I get it. I’m just not going to talk about contracts and all that, so I wanted to just make sure we addressed it though. In terms of my feelings for him, nothing changes.”
Smith has been present at Halas Hall daily during training camp, often seen riding a stationary bike during practice. Coach Matt Eberflus noted his expectations in July for Smith while he remained on the PUP list.
“Stay involved, be a leader, be engaged, which 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 a Chicago Bear. And he’ll do that.”
In his statement, Smith apologized to Bears fans while expressing little faith that negotiations would turn around.
“I haven’t had the chance to talk to the McCaskey family, and maybe they can salvage this, but as of right now I don’t see a path back to the organization I truly love,” Smith said.
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