Roquan Smith doesn’t expect to revisit contract before season opener
The Bears linebacker said all the preseason drama is in the past. “It’s already in the back of my mind,” he said.
Linebacker Roquan Smith doesn’t expect to talk to general manager Ryan Poles about a contract extension before the Bears’ Sept. 11 season opener.
And likely not during the season, either.
“I’m not focused on that, if I’m being completely honest,” he said. “My focus is on making this year the best year I can and then go from there. I don’t want to look forward too much to the future or anything like that.
“I’m just focused on having the best year I can with my teammates and playing the game I love. That’s what means the most to me.”
Smith didn’t seem worried about much at all Wednesday. One of the Bears’ few remaining veterans drew laughs from the crowd around his locker, whether it was comparing former teammate Danny Trevathan’s speed to that of new running mate Nicholas Morrow (“Maybe in Danny’s younger years,” he said) or answering whether he watched tape of Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs as a kid.
“The game’s a little different from back in the day,” he said. “But, yeah, I’ve definitely seen clips of those guys.”
Many star players have the unique talent of focusing in spite of distractions — even when the distraction, this time, was of Smith’s own making.
When the Bears didn’t give him the contract extension he wanted — worth about $100 million over five years — Smith decided to “hold in,” refusing to practice but attending meetings. Acting as his own agent, Smith demanded a trade during training camp, accusing Poles of negotiating in bad faith. Later, the NFL sent a memo warning teams not to communicate with Smith’s business partner because he wasn’t a licensed agent. Smith returned to practice without a new contract Aug. 20. The Bears had planned for him to play in the preseason finale Saturday, but he was scratched because of soreness.
Smith said all that drama is in the past.
“It’s already in the back of my mind,” he said. “It just came to the front when you just mentioned it.”
The best way for Smith to get paid what he thinks he deserves is for him to have a career season. He’ll have to stay healthy and thrive in his new position, weak-side linebacker.
“I flourish in any defense,” Smith said. “It don’t matter. Just line me up and tell me a play, and I’m there.”
Smith has participated in both practices since missing the game against the Browns. He has seven under his belt and will participate in five more before the opener.
“It feels amazing being out there with my guys,” he said. “That’s who you do it for — the love of the game, the guys in this locker room and everybody that supports me.”
He’s not concerned about how he fits in coach Matt Eberflus’ 4-3 scheme, though he can see its benefits.
“It’s definitely sweet,” Smith said. “It allows you to play in space more. And I feel like that’s one of my biggest attributes, playing in space, vision.
“I didn’t get to do a lot of that in the past, but being able to do that now, I think it’s going to be good. And I think it’s going to pay dividends for me.”
And, maybe, a boatload of cash.
After an offseason of worrying about it, Smith said that’s in the past.
“I never let anything get in the way of the bigger picture,” he said.