The contract dispute between the Bears and linebacker Roquan Smith reached a new level on Tuesday.
Smith announced that he has requested a trade from Chicago.
The linebacker issued a statement, via Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, noting that writing the words he’d requested a trade was “deeply painful.”
“Unfortunately, the new front office regime doesn’t value me here,” Smith wrote. “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.”
Smith does leave open the possibility that he could rescind the trade request.
“I haven’t had the chance to talk to the McCaskey family, and maybe they can salvage this,” he wrote, “but as of right now I don’t see a path back to the organization I truly love.”
Per Rapoport, Chicago’s offer was backloaded and wouldn’t make him the highest-paid linebacker in actual salary. Smith was also offended by proposed de-escalators that are not in the contract of any of the 94 non-quarterbacks who are making at least $15 million per year.
Smith is currently on the physically unable to perform list. But he was not planning to practice anyway while in the contract dispute, effectively creating a “hold in.”
The No. 8 overall pick of the 2018 draft, Smith has been a second-team All-Pro in each of the last two seasons. He recorded a career-high 163 total tackles last season, with 12 tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks, an interceptions, and three passes defensed.
In 61 career games, Smith has five interceptions, 14.0 sacks, and 43 tackles for loss.