Roquan Smith, one of UGA’s best players in the NFL, has requested a trade from the Chicago Bears.
The All-Pro linebacker went public to request a trade on Tuesday because of his contract situation: Smith is in the last year of his rookie deal– and he claimed that the Bears have “refused to negotiate in good faith.”
The 26-year-old Smith was the No. 8 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, and had a career-high 163 tackles last season, along with three sacks and three pass breakups.
Per the NFL Network, “the Bears gave Smith a backloaded offer that would not make him the highest paid linebacker in actual salary and included proposed de-escalators that no non-quarterback with a $15 million or higher contract has. That type of offer offended Smith and helped lead to this trade request.”
Smith led UGA to an appearance in the 2017 national championship game, while winning the Butkus award as college football’s top linebacker.
Just like many top NFL players who feel like they are being underpaid, Smith reported to camp with the Bears -- but he has not practiced while the two sides are engaged in contract negotiations. Here was Smith’s statement about the Bears on Tuesday:
“To the city of Chicago and all the Bears Fans worldwide, I have officially requested a trade; just writing these words is deeply painful.
“I’m a kid from Macon County, Georgia. When you grow up playing football, you dream of making it to the NFL one day. However, playing the Linebacker position, you NEVER imagine getting drafted in the Top 10 by the Chicago Bears! I’m a HOMEGROWN Bear! A dream came true for me to have an opportunity to put that Bears’ helmet on, wear the same jersey that the legendary LB’s did, it’s an indescribable feeling.
“Walking these hallways the past four years, you can feel the spirit, you feel the pressure to live up to that timeless history, that great legacy. I dreamed of playing like Wilber Marshall, Singletary, Briggs, Urlacher, Butkus! Since the day I was drafted, I vowed to play this position at a level that upheld the standard that was set before me, to uphold that respect and honor, and I have.
“Unfortunately, the new front office regime doesn’t value me here. They’ve refused to negotiate in good faith, 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 for the entire LB market if I signed it. I’ve been trying to get something done that’s fair since April, but their focus has been on trying to take advantage of me.
“I wanted to be a Bear for my entire career, help this team bring a super bowl back to our city. However, they have left me no choice than to request a trade that allows me to play for an organization that truly values what I bring to the table.
“I haven’t had the chance to talk to the McCaskey family, and maybe they can salvage this, but as of right now I don’t see a path back to the organization I truly love.
“I hope and pray you all can understand, I’m deeply sorry it’s come to this.
“Sincerely, Roquan Smith.”