Roquan Smith's contract breakdown and linebacker market originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Amidst the news of Roquan Smith's public announcement requesting a trade, the question of his contract becomes overwhelmingly prominent.
Despite hearing positive signals towards what seemed an inevitable deal made between the Bears and Smith, he took to the public to claim malfeasants against the front office.
Smith has consistently shown up to practice with an active mindset despite his placement on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list. The Bears declared Smith their WILL linebacker for the upcoming season's defense too.
Now, Smith claims the front office "doesn't value" him and have refused to "negotiate in good faith." The news comes as a major reflection on the front office and its intentions. It does not serve as a positive look for the new regime and could certainly do damage on the locker room.
The speculation about his contract suspects Smith is aiming to be the highest paid linebacker in the NFL. Shaquille Leonard, from Matt Eberflus' previous team, inked a five-year deal worth $98.5 million. Seeing that, Smith likely wants to break the $100 million mark with his sights on $20 million per year over five years.
His first rookie contract with the Bears was worth $18 million over four years. With his contract up last season, he is due $9.7 million this season based on his fifth-year option number. That number would make give him the third-highest base salary amongst all inside linebackers.
Therein lies Smith's argument about the linebacker market. The market for linebackers is low considering no team wants to overpay a lesser valued position. However, seeing as the WILL linebacker in Eberflus' system and others around the league is based on other positions creating space for him to make plays, he's arguing the position is undervalued.
In the past two seasons, Smith has produced over 300 combined tackles and 30 plus tackles for loss. He's come inches away from breaking 100 in solo tackles in the last two seasons. While he's been snubbed from being named All-Pro, he's still the Bears' best player.
Smith would set a new precedent by signing a deal worth nine figures for an inside linebacker. That's what he intends on doing, whether it be with the Bears or a different franchise.
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