Roquan Smith's Holdout Reportedly Not JUST About NFL's New Helmet Rule

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Roquan Smith’s Holdout Reportedly Not JUST About NFL’s New Helmet Rule

Chicago Bears

Roquan Smith remains on the outside looking in at Bears camp as his agents attempt to make sure the guaranteed money in his rookie deal remains guaranteed.

Reports surfaced on Saturday explaining the holdup regarding Smith’s holdout as being tied to the NFL’s new helmet rule, with the issue being that the team could reclaim guaranteed money from the player if he were to be suspended for violating the rule. Seems simple enough to deal with, right? Especially since we noted in Sunday’s Bullets that the Buffalo Bills scrapped that language from Tremaine Edmunds’ contract and signed the 16th overall pick just 17 days after he was drafted. And since it turns out that running backs Saquon Barkley and Todd Gurley also received those contract protections, according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, tying up the loose ends should be simple.

However, that contract protection might not be all that’s keeping the two sides from coming together on an agreement:

That Graziano insists that the holdup isn’t the helmet rule, but instead is language in the contract that could allow the team to void guaranteed money for various other reasons does nothing to ease concerns about a long-term holdout. All things considered, Smith should want these protections on his fully-guaranteed four-year rookie contract, and the Bears should be getting to the point where they should give in to his requests because there is already precedent set by other teams with other players. Since that hasn’t happened, you get a little more nervous.

So while we were previously unconcerned about the potential of a long-term holdout, it’s certainly a growing possibility – especially if there are *other* potential hang-ups that go beyond the particular protections that Smith wants regarding the helmet rule.

If things are truly sour, this could hurt the Bears in several ways. Because not only is this contract issue keeping Smith from gaining valuable practice reps, contentious negotiations could hurt the relationship between the player (and his agents) and the team. The Bears not following suit with other teams that have erased such language from other similar contracts also puts a dent in the idea that the organization was moving away from a negative perception that had been built in previous years and by prior regimes. And because the Chicago Tribune reports that neither side was willing to blink in negotiations regarding the helmet rule protections, it might be a bit before this thing ultimately gets settled.

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Author: Luis Medina

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