Bears linebacker Roquan Smith: 'I didn't plan to get traded'

Roquan Smith: 'I didn't plan to get traded' originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Ahead of the NFL trade deadline, the Bears traded away their star linebacker, and once assumed centerpiece of their rebuild – Roquan Smith – to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for draft capital in the 2023 draft.

With it, shock and confusion rattled Chicago, as well as Smith.

"I didn't plan to [get traded], but you know, life happens at times and got traded," Smith said after his first practice in Baltimore. "So initially I was shocked. But I'm excited to be here. Good group of guys that are contending for a title, and that's what I'm in the game to play for -- playing for a title."

The Bears received a second- and fifth-round pick in return for Smith heading to the Ravens.

Smith, 25, played 4.5 seasons in Chicago. He cracked the top-ten list in the NFL for tackles in the last two seasons and earned two second-team All-Pro honors on his way.

Over the summer, Smith and the Bears entered contract negotiations for an extension. Smith was heading into the final year of his rookie deal and reportedly inquired for a similar value to that of Shaquille Leonard – who inked a five-year, $98.5 million deal with the Indianapolis Colts in the summer of 2021.

The two sides couldn't reach an agreement, and Smith reported himself he would play out his rookie deal and search for a lucrative deal in the offseason.

In turn, the Bears leveraged Smith in the trade market for assets in the draft.

Ryan Poles admitted on Wednesday the failed negotiations were reason to trade Smith, as the organization couldn't find "common ground" between the two sides.

RELATED: How Roquan went from centerpiece of Bears' rebuild to traded

"We had a difference in value," Poles said. "I’m not going to go into exactly where he slots and all of that. But at the same time, you want players to think highly of themselves. You want them to understand that they are the best at their position. I don’t fault him for that. But we had that conversation and obviously, it just didn’t work out."

Now, the linebacker gets to play for a contending AFC team with the Ravens.

He hopes to turn around a defense that currently ranks 20th in allowed points per game. He'll join the likes of big-time defensive names, like Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, Patrick Queen and Jason Pierre-Paul.

Smith ascertained he hasn't entered any contract negotiations with the Ravens yet. Right now, he's focused on helping the team win.

"I know they trying to get over the hump and win the big game," Smith said. "So I feel like I can be one of the guys that can help with that. So I'm excited to be able to give everything I got to make that happen."

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