Contentious is a word I’d use to describe the current state of the Bears’ negotiations with Roquan Smith.
But perhaps better days are ahead.
There was a glimmer of optimism that made its way into ESPN’s broadcast of Thursday’s Bears-Seahawks game, in which the broadcast crew of Steve Levy, Dan Orlovsky, and Louis Riddick were relaying a conversation they had with Bears GM Ryan Poles. The major takeaway from the chat was that Poles told them there was progress made in terms of getting Smith back onto the field. So while that doesn’t provide much in terms of getting Smith the extension he wants, getting him back on the field with his teammates feels like an important first step.
As for that potential extension, Brad Biggs of the Tribune has a relatively optimistic appraisal of the situation:
“I still believe the most likely outcome will be an extension for Smith. It’s the prudent move for him. And maybe digging in his heels will result in some concessions by the club. … Too many signs point to the Bears and smith sticking this thing out. Stranger things have happened, but my hunch is they find a way to make this happen.”
That is most certainly a notable opinion from a long-time Bears beat reporter. Biggs isnt one to throw out thoughts like this on a whim. All of a sudden, I’m thinking maybe the two sides can hash things out after all.
Smith’s hold-in, while a nuisance, hasn’t been an over-the-top team distraction. There might be backroom shenanigans happening in trying to find a trade partner. But with that comes the sense that the odds of a trade are dwindling. Especially with Biggs sharing his belief that “it would be mighty difficult for (GM Ryan) Poles to get good value for Smith in a trade” at this point of the football calendar. But maybe that’s yet another reason to be optimistic that the two sides can cook up an extension before the start of the regular season.
In the end, I find it noteworthy that Smith has been with the team throughout his hold-in. Smith has been on the sidelines during both preseason games. Firstly, during the Preseason Week 1 win against the Chiefs. And also in Seattle, where he traveled with the team for Thursday’s triumphant effort. That’s a long flight for someone who isn’t playing. And I imagine it’s longer when you’re a player at odds with management. To me, this suggests the relationship isn’t irreparable. It looks like real reasons for optimism are beginning to surface. So … why not finish the job?