ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Other top draft picks will get better deals as a result of the concessions rookie Roquan Smith received from the Bears during his contract standoff, inside linebacker Danny Trevathan said.
“I’m proud, because he made a decision and stuck with it,” Trevathan said Wednesday after the Bears’ joint practice against the Broncos at UC Health Training Center. “I’m more proud … it’s going to lead to more people doing that.
“It was big for him to do that. It was tough. I know he wanted to get here with his team, and a lot of people were saying ‘Oh he needs to get there’ and a lot of other bullcrap. You’ve just got to focus on you sometimes. You only get one chance to do that and I told him, ‘Do it the right way — your heart will never lead you wrong. Do the job and then get here so we can win some games.’ ”
Smith’s 29-day holdout ended Tuesday morning when he signed a four-year, $18.4 million contract, with $11.5 million guaranteed. The Bears and his representatives had disagreed over the circumstances under which the team could void the guaranteed money in Smith’s contract.
Smith received concessions his teammates don’t have. The Bears can only take away his contract guarantees if Smith is suspended three games by the NFL for a football play. If he’s defending himself or a teammate on the field after a play, the Bears can only void his guarantees if the NFL gives him a two-game suspension.
The agreement protects Smith if he’s suspended for a fight; those typically are limited to one-game penalties.
The Bears could have voided Trevathan’s contract guarantees last year after he received a one-game suspension for hitting Packers receiver Davante Adams head-first. They didn’t, and offered Smith similar verbal assurances. Smith and his representatives wanted it in writing — and got it.
As the No. 8 overall pick, Trevathan said, Smith had leverage to secure a strong contract.
“It was the perfect time,” Trevathan said. “So I’m sure more people down the road will look to him for advice for that.”
Including Trevathan himself. The next time he negotiates a deal, he’ll keep Smith’s contract protections in mind.
“Just a little fine-tuning,” he said. “Like I say, on the field, you’ve got to fine-tune some things. Upstairs you’ve got to fine-tune some things.”
Smith, who practiced in pads for the first time Wednesday, still needs to do some fine-tuning on the field. He has three-and-a-half weeks to learn the Bears’ defense before the season-opener against the Packers.
“He fit in nicely with that $11.5 mil, you know? …” Trevathan joked. “We knew what type of player he was. We just had to get him in here, get him listening, get him fine-tuned, and we’ll be all right.”
Being surrounded by veterans — Smith could be the Bears’ only new defensive starter — will only hasten the process.
“It will help him assimilate a lot faster than other guys who come into different situations,” defensive end Akiem Hicks said. “It’s only a bonus.”
Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, a fellow Georgia alum, said the Bears got a boost when Smith returned to the team. He shouldn’t have much trouble earning new fans.
“He’s a good kid,” Floyd said. “He’s tough — ‘Chicago tough,’ already. And he works hard.”
Smith’s teammates finally get to see that work up close.
“I feel like everybody won in the end, right?” Trevathan said. “We got our guy, he got his contract. So its all about everybody being happy and coming out here and playing football and putting everything else aside.”