A Roquan Smith Extension is a ‘Top Priority’ For the New Bears Brass

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported in his latest column at the four-letter network that he expects extension discussions between Roquan Smith and the Chicago Bears to “heat up” this summer and believes that other Bears nearing free agency understand that Smith is a priority for Ryan Poles and his front office at Halas Hall.

“Expect talks between the Bears and Smith to heat up sometime this summer. Even other Bears players close to free agency believe Smith is the priority for Chicago and new GM Ryan Poles.”

Smith, 25, has established himself as one of the building blocks of the Chicago Bears as they re-shape the roster under the direction of rookie GM Ryan Poles and rookie head coach Matt Eberflus. Suppose Eberflus can have the type of impact on Smith that he had on Darious Leonard during his time as the defensive coordinator in Indianapolis, then, oh baby. In that case, the rest of the league will be put on notice.

Speaking of Leonard, the Colts’ All-Pro linebacker signed a five-year, $98.5 million deal with Indianapolis last August, and Leonard and Smith line up pretty well across the board, so that might be a good starting point when we try to imagine what a new deal for Smith might look like in Chicago.

I often wrote last season that Smith was on a remarkable trajectory as far as Bears’ middle linebackers were concerned, with the former Georgia Bulldog neck-and-neck with Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher in many critical categories for the position.  Smith is criminally underrated outside of Chicago, but it’s nice to know that the Bears’ front office is not going to make that same mistake in their inventory of what Smith can do for their roster in the long term.

When asked if he wanted to be in Chicago long-term, Smith said, “Absolutely, yeah, that’s my plan.”

Fowler opined that Smith would push the top of the market for his position in any contract extension discussions: “With the top of the linebacker market approaching $20 million annually, Smith should push that number. He doesn’t have an agent and will essentially negotiate on his own behalf, but he showed up to offseason workouts as a sign of good faith.”

Fowler’s latest report tracks with what Ryan Poles had to last month at the league’s owner’s meetings when Poles said an extension for Smith is “something we have to address.” Poles was non-commital on a timeline, however.

“I don’t know if that’s how we’re going to handle it, but I would like to,” Poles said. “Obviously, the earlier you get to that, the better. But also with a new staff, we may wait a little bit, too.”

The Bears picked up Smith’s fifth-year option last offseason, and he is set to earn a fully guaranteed $9.375 million in 2022. Smith’s 163 tackles ranked fifth in the NFL last season, and the former first-rounder was a second-team All-Pro during the 2020-21 campaign. Whether it’s this summer or closer to camp, it seems that the Bears’ new front office is committed to making Roquan Smith the priority that he should be, and that’s music to the ears of Bears fans.

written by

Patrick grew up in Chicago's Bridgeport and Garfield Ridge neighborhoods before moving to the Western Suburbs of Chicago before eventually relocating to the Las Vegas area with his family in 2023. He started with Bleacher Nation in 2021 and has spent time as a Staff Writer and on the Chicago Blackhawks beat. He is currently a writer and editor at Bleacher Nation covering the Chicago Bears and the NFL at large and the author of the Bleacher Nation Newsletter. Patrick is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA).

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