CHICAGO — Bears linebacker Roquan Smith said in a written statement that he has requested a trade after contract negotiations between himself and the organization reached an impasse.
Smith wrote a statement posted to social media by the NFL Network on Tuesday. ESPN has confirmed the validity of these messages.
The 25-year-old linebacker wrote that the “new front office regime doesn’t value me here,” after Smith said he had been trying to work on an extension since April.
“They have refused to negotiate in good faith,” Smith wrote. “Every step of this journey has been ‘take it or leave it’. The deal sent to me is one that would be bad for myself and the entire LB market if I signed it.”
Since the Bears drafted him eighth overall in 2018, the former Georgia standout has 14 sacks while recording at least 101 tackles and an interception in every season he’s played. Smith was due to make $9.7 million in the final year of his rookie deal and was placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list when he reported to camp in late July.
Smith accused the Bears’ front office of “trying to take advantage of me” and that the organization “left me no choice but to request a trade that allows me to play for an organization that really values what I bring to the table. “
In April, Smith expressed confidence he would remain in Chicago long-term with a new deal and was a full participant during voluntary workouts and mandatory minicamp. In his statement, the linebacker said he wanted to be with the Bears for his entire career.
At the start of training camp, first-year general manager Ryan Poles, who expressed a desire to reach an agreement on an extension for Smith before the start of the regular season, addressed the team, which has yet to complete a new deal for Smith.
“My feelings about Roquan don’t change at all,” Poles said on July 26. “I love the player and the person. And that’s not going to change. The one thing I want to ask everybody here is that I know I’m going to get a lot of questions and I understand that. I just don’t want to talk about contracts and all that, so I just wanted to make sure we got it worked out. As far as my feelings for him, nothing changes.”
Smith has been present at Halas Hall daily during training camp, often seen riding a stationary bike during practice. Coach Matt Eberflus noted in July his expectations for Smith while he remained on the PUP list.
“Stay involved, be a leader, be committed, which he does and will do,” Eberflus said. “He’s a pro. He’s been in the league long enough. He’s a really good player. We’re excited to have him as a Chicago Bear. And he’s going to do that.”
In his statement, Smith apologized to Bears fans while expressing little faith that negotiations would turn around.
“I haven’t had a chance to talk to the McCaskey family and maybe they can salvage this, but right now I don’t see a way back to the organization that I really love,” Smith said.