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3 positives of Roquan Smith deciding to play final year with Bears

Jeff Scoggins

The Chicago Bears will have their All-Pro middle linebacker this season. Roquan Smith decided to end the hold-in and play out the final year of his contract. His presence in the middle of their defense is much needed. Fans and teammates are happy to see Smith return as Chicago’s defense is stronger with its best player from last season.

We have all seen the lists stating why he should be traded or negatives of him staying. Well, here we are going to look at three positives of Smith deciding to play his final year with the Bears.

Roquan Smith’s performance on the defense

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Chicago Bears
Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears drafted Smith in 2018 with the eighth overall pick in the first round. As a sign of his defensive presence, Smith recorded a sack in his very first snap as a Bears linebacker. Since then, he has racked up 524 tackles, 14 sacks, 5 interceptions, and 17 pass deflections.

Although he’s not a sack leader, Smith led the Bears in tackles last year with 163 regular season tackles. That was in the 3-4 defense the team has used since 2015. Under new head coach Matt Eberflus they will be running the 4-3 defense. This puts even more pressure on a team to have an elite middle linebacker.

In the new defensive scheme, Smith could have his best year at the perfect time, a contract year. This defense could become a top 10 or maybe even a top five with the talent that is at every position, returning the Bears to the times of having an elite defense to destroy teams like they’ve become known for.

Related: Roquan Smith and the top 2023 NFL free agents

Roquan Smith betting on himself

Although he wanted to have it done before this season started, this development could work in Smith’s favor. The Bears picked up his fifth-year option after seeing him play great during his rookie contract. The main issues with him getting a new contract before this season started, I believe, is a mix of cap space issues and new Bears’ staff not having ties to him.

If Smith plays elite this season, which he is set up to do in the new 4-3 defense and supporting cast around him, then coach Eberflus and Bears management will be under the gun to sign him to a max contract. Not to mention their cap space is much better next season with $96 million in space, the best in the league.

Even if, for some unknown reason, the Bears don’t sign him at that point, after a career season, he will be a highly sought-after free agent, but I don’t see him getting into free agency.

Related: 3 reasons why Chicago Bears should still trade Roquan Smith

A huge contract from where?

chicago bears' roquan smith
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

It would take a fall off in production or major injury for Smith to not get signed to a big contract when this season is over. The question for me is will it be in Chicago, or will he be in another city come next year?

All things point to him staying in Chicago. Not only has he expressed his love for the city and organization, but if he has the type of year that most think he will have, the Bears would be foolish not to sign him. With the abundance in cap space next year, it makes it highly likely they ink Smith to his new deal maybe before the end of the season.

Smith is a top middle linebacker in the league, and with that position considered the quarterback of the defense, it only makes sense that if you secure an elite talent, you hold on to it. A deal seems almost guaranteed to me before free agency next year.

This is a perfect match for Smith, and it may be to his benefit that he has a prove-it year in this defense before getting his payday. The amount of money on his contract could go up significantly if he balls out, and that’s why he’s betting on himself.