For different reasons, Ryan Pace’s first-round picks haven’t lasted long in Chicago.
Roquan Smith could change that trend.
NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reports the Bears are exercising the fifth-year option on Smith’s rookie deal. Hooray! That was an easy decision to make. And frankly, I’m glad the Bears made it. Sometimes, you just never know with these things.
Ultimately, this guy is lined up to be a member of the Bears for at least the next two seasons:
Feels pretty good, doesn’t it?
This is a worthwhile development, even if it was fait accompli based on Smith’s production over the first three years as a pro. Pace makes Smith just the second Bears first-rounder since 2015 to get his fifth-year option selected. It’s important to note that Smith’s class is the first in which fifth-year options are fully guaranteed upon team exercising the right to pick it up. Meaning a team is tied to a player once the team picks up the option. In other words, there will be no Leonard Floyd like loophole in which a player is cut before the league year to create salary cap space by moving his deal off the books.
Smith will get an estimated $9.375 million in guarantees for the 2022 season. That’s not bad for a second-team All-Pro linebacker. Moving forward, I’m curious what this will mean for Smith’s future in Chicago. Will an extension be in the works? Could the Bears have Smith playing on the Franchise Tag in 2023? What are the cap and spending ramifications if Smith is in line to make north of $9 million? Those are all questions worth asking now, but none can be addressed until later.