Jeff Hughes of Da Bears Blog has long been a staple of the Bears blogging community, sharing insights, perspectives, and sourced information for quite some time. In other words, if Hughes puts it out into the universe, we’re giving it a look.
And with that being said, Hughes gave Twitter a crumb earlier on Friday:
That one tweet could launch a ton of content on its own. But what I want to focus on is the parenthetical at the end, which shouldn’t be tossed aside like scraps. Hughes sharing that the Bears offered an extension worth $95 million is certainly notable. Granted, there isn’t much meat on that bone. And if you’ll recall, Smith’s issues with whatever Bears offers have come his way reportedly lie in language that artificially inflates the total value in a way that he looks like his contract will pay him at a market-setting rate with a low probability of Smith actually reaching that total.
Even still … $95 million is an eye-catching number. That total value would put him as the third-highest-paid linebacker in football behind Colts star Shaquille Leonard ($98.5M) and 49ers stud Fred Warner ($95.225M). So this isn’t something we should be treating like a footnote. Because with this bit of information, we now have two ballpark figures. One that has Smith seeking a market-setting deal, while the Bears seem to value him at a smidge lower.
Conflicting Opinions From National Reporters
NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport and his ESPN counterpart Adam Schefter are at the top of the news-breaking food chain in pro football circles. With that in mind, I find it interesting that the two appear to be on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to what they’re hearing about the Smith situation.
For instance, Rapoport — who was the news-breaker on Smith’s training camp holdout and trade request — hears the offer from the Bears was backloaded, had things (de-escalator clauses?), and has come with a tone that Smith doesn’t appreciate. You can get the full scope of what Rapoport is hearing gin this clip from Thursday’s appearance on the Pat McAfee Show:
Meanwhile, Schefter has been hearing the complete opposite.
Let’s re-visit Schefty’s comments on a recent appearance on ESPN 1000’s Waddle and Silvy Show, which Patrick highlighted in a post earlier this week:
“My view from the outside is, the Bears have made a number of, where it sounds like to me, compelling offers,” Schefter told Waddle & Silvy. “Now, I can be proven otherwise, but I’ve chatted about some offers with some of the people connected to the Bears, and I’ve run those numbers by other teams, and they’re like, ‘wow.’ In their minds, they feel like it’s fair.”
I haven’t come across such a difference in opinions regarding the same thing since Obi-Wan Kenobi declared Chancellor Palpatine was evil, while Anakin Skywalker countered with his perspective that the Jedi are evil. Anything can be something from a certain point of view.
So … How About a Trade?
If the Bears can’t sign Smith to an extension, one alternative is to create a trade. And while that could be something both sides might want after these negotiations, it isn’t as simple as punching it in on Madden ’23 and pressing the “FORCE TRADE” option.
Firstly, there seems to be a difference of opinion when it comes to Smith’s value on the trade market. Schefter notes the challenge of unearthing that team:
“This is where it gets tricky. What team that’s out there is going to be willing to pay him today north of $20 million dollars? Is there a team out there?
Number one, how many teams have the space to do that today, number two, how many teams have the need to do that today, and then number three, how many teams have the space, have the need, and then will also be willing to compensate the Bears enough to make them want to trade the guy? It’s not a simple thing to do.”
To me, Schefter’s commentary makes it seem like Smith’s market outside of Chicago isn’t as high as it is with the Bears. And if that’s the case, it’ll certainly muck things up.
But on the other end of the equation, we have Rapoport suggesting trading Smith could net the Bears a pair of first-round picks, just as deals for non-QBs Jalen Ramsey (CB) and Laremy Tunsil (LT).
Of course, this whole conversation could be moot if the Bears don’t want to entertain trading Smith. Not only is that something Poles said he didn’t want to do, the aforementioned Jeff Hughes also hears the Bears don’t want to do it:
If this is true, then an anonymous figure seeking trades on Smith’s behalf is nothing more than a waste of time at this stage of the game.
In The End…
I’m not sure if we’re closer to the end or the beginning of this saga. Are we in motion moving toward a conclusion? Or are the wheels just spinning in the mud? But just as we thought, it has quickly gotten messy when it probably didn’t need to get to this point.