The NFL's New Helmet Rule is the Holdup Behind Roquan Smith's Holdout

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The NFL’s New Helmet Rule is the Holdup Behind Roquan Smith’s Holdout

Chicago Bears

The NFL’s new helmet rule has already mucked things up and there hasn’t even been a preseason snap yet.

Chicago Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy revealed that the league’s new lowering of the helmet rule is part of the issue that has kept Roquan Smith from signing his rookie deal:

We figured things would be messy for the NFL because of the rule change and said as much when we discussed the new helmet rule back in May. HOWEVER, we really didn’t see this coming and certainly wasn’t what we had in mind.

As it stands, it’s clear that the holdup behind the holdout has to do with Smith wanting potential financial protections that would come up if he was ever suspended for a hit that violates the league’s new helmet rule. That seems sensible. And because suspensions allow teams to cut bait on guaranteed money in contracts, someone like Smith (who projects to be a big-time tackler in 2018) could be negatively impacted by the rule. Losing out on cash because you’re more susceptible to a rule that isn’t even in play yet feels like reason enough to to hold out until all the ‘T’s” are crossed, “I’s” are dotted, and details are sorted out on your rookie contract.

The update coming from Nagy comes as somewhat of a surprise, as coaches aren’t often tied to negotiations. It’s not as if the first-year head coach doesn’t have a lot on his plate. Surely, Nagy has bigger fish to fry than to pore over rookie contract fine print. But because Nagy probably wants to know what’s going on with his team’s first-round pick, it’s understandable that he would check in to get a clue on what’s happening with negotiations.

Nagy expressed confidence a deal would get done, but maintained the team needed to keep its focus on the task at hand.

“We’ll eventually get that thing figured out,” Nagy said, via Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times. “The biggest thing for our organization and our players is for me to be focused on who’s here right now, and that’s what I’m doing.”

It’s full-speed ahead for the Bears, even if it’s without their first-round pick.

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Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.