By ANDREW SELIGMAN – AP Sportswriter
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — The Chicago Bears’ showdown with Roquan Smith took another twist Wednesday when the team removed the star linebacker from the physically unable to play roster a day after he went public with a request commercial.
It was unclear whether the Bears took him off the roster due to a potential contract extension or trade, or to fine him for missing practices.
Smith has been on a “hold-in” since the start of training camp with negotiations over a new deal seemingly at a standstill.
Placing him on the physically unable to perform list allowed him to attend meetings and practices at Halas Hall without being fined for missed practices.
Smith, who does not have an agent, accused the Bears of not negotiating in good faith in a statement on Tuesday. He said the front office under new chief executive Ryan Poles had been making take-it-or-leave-it offers since talks began in April, which would be “bad for me and the whole LB market if I sign”.
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Smith, the 8th overall draft pick in 2018, is entering the fifth and final year of his rookie contract. He was a second-team All-Pro in 2020 and 2021.
Pole said on Tuesday that he plans to continue working for a contract extension rather than trade Smith.
“At the end of the day, we have to do what’s best for this organization,” he said. “But my intentions are to make sure Roquan Smith is in this team.”
Pole also insisted that his feelings for Smith have not changed.
“I love the kid,” he said. “I love what he has done on the pitch, which makes me really disappointed with the current situation.”
The Bears have made big changes after going 6-11 last season and missing the playoffs for the ninth time in 11 years. They fired general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy and replaced them with the Poles and Matt Eberflus.
The Bears plan to use Smith as a weakside linebacker in their new 4-3 scheme. And her status was front and center at Halas Hall on Wednesday.
Teammates Robert Quinn and Darnell Mooney said they would like to have Smith on the court. But they also understand the business side.
“You see this all the time with players trying to put pressure on the organization just trying to get a deal done,” Mooney said. “It’s nothing I can do or anything, so I just watch from afar.”
Quinn was with the Los Angeles Rams in 2017 when Aaron Donald hosted a preseason outfit. The All-Pro signed a six-year, $135 million deal just before the 2018 season after once again holding out.
“It’s an opportunity to take care of your family and all that good stuff, so you don’t want to sell yourself short because not many people can sign new contracts, and if you’re one of the best at your job , you want to make sure you sign a high-paying contract,” Quinn said.
“But, again, I’m not a GM. I am not Roquan. I am not the owner. I have my two cents and I’m sure no one cares anyway.
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