Bears linebacker Roquan Smith holding out of training camp because of issues with his contract (mainly, not getting an extension worth signing to this point) came out of the blue on Monday.
Whether it is a passive holdout (Smith shows up to camp, but doesn’t participate in on-field team practice activities) or an active one (Smith stays away from Halas Hall altogether) makes no difference to me. A holdout that keeps the team’s best returning defender away from his teammates isn’t a good sign. Especially not when he is a team leader and in the middle of a defense led by a new head coach, defensive coordinator and position coach.
But perhaps we shouldn’t be too worried. Because after reports of his pending holdout from camp surfaced, Smith went to Instagram to make it known that he still plans on being there when it matters most:
They say a picture says a thousand words, but it’s the words in the caption accompanying Smith’s photo that does it for me. Because if we’re to take the message “When The Smoke Clears 58 Gone Be There” at face value, I’d say that Smith plans on being with the team when Week 1 of the regular kicks off in 47 days. Of course, Smith’s IG post doesn’t hint about progress on an extension. That would make me feel a little better. But that Smith still sees himself re-joining the squad (even as he starts a holdout) is encouraging.
Even still … a Smith holdout is an annoyance I didn’t think the Bears would have to deal with this offseason. We began discussing the possibility of extending Smith last offseason, so it’s not as if this is something just now popping up. Moreover, similar players getting deals last offseason gave us an idea what it could cost. So it’s not as if there isn’t an ideal price range to find a middle ground on with a Smith extension. And it’s not as if the new regime has been ignoring the elephant in the room. There was even a report that the team was prioritizing a Smith extension. Smith himself envisions being a fixture with this team moving forward. But to this juncture, the hasn’t been anything to shake out since then.
Hopefully, we’ll get some clarity on this situation sooner or later. Perhaps as soon as when GM Ryan Poles meets the media today. Until then, we’re on obsessive Roquan Smith extension watch.