Bears confirm new helmet rule is contributing to Roquan Smith’s holdout

Michael David Smith
ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports

The NFL’s new rule against initiating contact by lowering the helmet has directly contributed to the lengthy contract dispute between the Bears and their first-round draft pick, linebacker Roquan Smith.

PFT previously explained that Smith could be concerned that if he’s suspended under the new rule, the Bears could void the guarantees in his contract, and Smith and his agents are seeking protections against that. On Saturday at training camp, Bears head coach Matt Nagy confirmed that’s an issue in the lengthy contract dispute.

Nagy said Smith’s desire to have financial protections against the helmet rule is “part of the issue with it,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Nagy added that “very few” players in the league have such protections in their contracts. But that doesn’t mean Smith and his agents are wrong to seek those protections. Given how little we know about how strictly the NFL is going to enforce the new rule, it’s smart of Smith and his camp to be thinking about the possibility that any linebacker, in the normal course of doing his job, could get suspended under the new rule.

Eventually, one side is likely to budge, and Smith is either going to get those protections in his contract or he’s going to sign his deal and get into camp. That it’s gone on this long is an unintended consequence of the league’s new rule.

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