After a hold-in that lasted for most of training camp, Bears linebacker Roquan Smith has shifted his attention from contract negotiations to the 2022 NFL season.
Smith is entering the final year of his rookie deal, and he’s gearing up for a huge payday — whether that’s in Chicago or elsewhere.
After Smith made his intentions clear that he’s focused only on this upcoming season, Poles has the same mindset.
“We’ve shifted gear, and it’s all ball now,” Poles said in a press conference earlier this week.
“He doesn’t get enough credit for being able to change gears like that and going out and just playing football and doing it the right way. I’m proud of him for handling that way. And he’s out there and we’re better because of that.”
Things got ugly during contract negotiations, which went public when Smith voiced his frustrations about the process and how he felt taken advantage of. It got to the point where Smith didn’t see an avenue to remain with the Bears.
As for whether there’s hope for salvaging their relationship, Poles believes they can mend things.
“It’s human nature,” Poles said. “When things happen and two sides don’t agree on something, it’s going to take a little time to do that. I got a lot of faith that that’s going to happen, and I’m excited for him.
“First of all, he’s a good player. That’s never changed. And he’s a good dude. I have faith that he’s going to have a good year and we’ll work on our relationship and all that.
“We’ve all been there, right? You have disagreements and you have to come back together and be teammates. That’s what I expect.”
As for where that may lead, we’ll just have to wait and see.