Bears GM Ryan Poles ‘disappointed’ by Roquan Smith trade request, maintains goal of signing him

Bears GM Ryan Poles responded to Smith’s trade request Tuesday by repeating that the team still intends to sign him to a new contract.

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Chicago Bears inside linebacker Roquan Smith lines up during a game.

Chicago Bears inside linebacker Roquan Smith lines up during a game.

Jason Behnken/AP

Hours after Bears linebacker Roquan Smith turned up the heat in his contract dispute with the team by publicly requesting a trade and even appealing to chairman George McCaskey to intervene in negotiations, general manager Ryan Poles said he still intends to sign Smith to a new deal.

“Right now, my intentions are to sign Roquan to this team,” Poles said after practice Tuesday. “We’re gonna take it day-by-day. At the end of the day, we’ve gotta do what’s best for this organization, but my intentions are to make sure Roquan Smith’s on this team.”

Smith, arguably the team’s best player, has been seeking a contract extension since April. He’s entering the final season of his rookie deal and will make $9.7 million, then hit free agency. He has been “holding in,” meaning he reported to the Bears for training camp but hasn’t practiced. The team has him on the Physically Unable to Perform list, though there is no known injury and it’s obvious he’s sitting out because of his contract status.

In a letter to Bears fans explaining his trade request, Smith severely criticized Poles for not negotiating “in good faith” and said the team’s offers have been intended to “take advantage of me.”

Poles said he was “disappointed” and surprised that he and Smith had reached this juncture. Both sides have said since spring they wanted to get a deal in place.

“I’ll double down on what I’ve said before: My feelings for Roquan haven’t changed at all,” Poles said. “He’s a very good football player. I love the kid, love what he’s done on the field, which makes me really disappointed in where we’re at right now. I thought we’d be in a better situation, to be completely honest with you.

“In terms of our philosophy in the front office, I’ve always believed and always will believe that we take care of our homegrown talent... We take care of them for what they’ve done and for what they can become in the future. With this situation, we’ve showed respect from a very early timeframe and with that said, there’s record-setting pieces of this [offer] that I knew for a fact — I thought was going to show him the respect that he deserves. Obviously that hasn’t been the case.”

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