Nearly half of the first-round picks selected in the 2018 NFL Draft remain unsigned, but the only one we really care about is Roquan Smith. And because the Chicago Bears opened camp a bit earlier than most of the other teams in the league, Smith’s contract status came into focus on Monday when he did not report with his fellow rookies. So what will Smith’s deal look like once it’s finalized?
Jason Belzer of Forbes estimated the total contract and signing bonus of each of the NFL’s first-round picks, and Smith figures to take home a healthy chunk of change. Belzer’s projection has Smith’s total contract value being worth $18,733,972 with a signing bonus of $11,695,107 over four years.
OverTheCap.com projects a total contract value for Smith being $18,477,166 with an annual value of $4,619,292. And Spotract.com’s approximation has a four-year deal worth $18,640,768 with $11,636,922 guaranteed. These projections do not include the fifth-year option, which in Smith’s case would be worth the average of the top-10 players at his position. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
Taking into consideration the salary camp jump for 2018, it’s fair to say that contract is in line with the reported four-year pact worth $17.2 million signed by Panthers running back Christian McCaffery, who was the No. 8 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Finding a more direct contract comparison for Smith isn’t all that easy. Pass-rushing outside linebackers have been the ones to go in the top-10 in most recent years, which skews the numbers. Smith is the rare non-pass-rushing linebacker to crack the top-10, but his skills at his position are elite and his pedigree is undeniable. He’ll clear what Haason Reddick of the Cardinals made as the first linebacker taken in 2017. Spotrac has Reddick’s rookie deal being worth for $13,477,966 in guarantees with a $8,942,157 signing bonus.
To be clear when discussing Smith’s situation, we’re not looking at a holdout at the moment. The team isn’t scheduled to report in its entirety until Thursday and its first practice isn’t until Saturday at 8:15 a.m. on the campus of Olivete Nazarene University in Bourbonnais. There is still time for the Bears and Smith’s representatives to get a deal done before the first practice, and it’s entirely possible that’s what happens. After all, Mitch Trubisky was a late signing too … and it conveniently happened when the team was reporting to training camp. So stay tuned.