So Now a Behavioral Clause Might Be Holding Things up for Roquan Smith?

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So Now a Behavioral Clause Might Be Holding Things up for Roquan Smith?

Chicago Bears

Chicago Bears linebacker Roquan Smith remains the only unsigned pick from the 2018 NFL Draft, and at first, we thought that had something to do with the new helmet rule. But now a new twist has emerged in the contract holdout saga.

The Chicago Tribune’s David Haugh reports that a behavioral clause is now the main issue keeping Smith from signing his rookie contract and reporting to training camp with the Bears. A source informs the Tribune that just four teams have issued contracts with the types of protections Smith seeks from his rookie deals. Additionally, a long-time agent with experience negotiating NFL contracts tells Haugh that Smith’s demands aren’t common.

Negotiations between Smith and the Bears were recently described to be at a stalemate, and I wouldn’t expect this news to help matters (or, rather, this was probably always part of that stalemate).

In what might be viewed as a concession by some or a sign of progress by others, Haugh  reports the team appears to be willing to make a step in the right direction by reportedly agreeing to not void Smith’s guaranteed money were he to be suspended for an illegal hit stemming from the league’s new helmet rule. So while this was previously believed at the crux of the holdout issue, it has since been reported that there were other possible hangups beyond the helmet issue. However, behavioral clauses weren’t believed to be a part of the problem until this most recent report. In any case, having new reasons for a stalemate is less than ideal for a team that doesn’t have its first-round pick in the fold on the eve of the first of five preseason games.

The Bears had not been painted in a friendly light in the wake of this contract dispute, as memories of missteps by old regimes have re-emerged. However, Haugh’s report seems to shift blame to the player/agent side of the equation, depending on how you read it. While it’s sensible for Smith’s representatives at CAA to fight to keep guaranteed money untouched in case of on-field rules violations, being nit-picky regarding a character clause changes the calculus a bit – at least in the court of public opinion. Though, a source shared with Haugh that the Bears’ reluctance to include that kind of contract language has nothing to do with concerns regarding Smith’s character.

Whenever he gets on the field, Smith figures to be playing alongside Danny Trevathan as one of the Bears’ two starting inside linebackers. However, Nick Kwiatkoski has stepped in, taken advantage of additional reps, and practiced well with the first unit. The hope is that a deal gets done sooner, rather than later as tensions could rise as public negotiations appear to have begun.

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Author: Luis Medina

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