Chicago Bears rookie linebacker Roquan Smith is the sole first-round pick yet to sign as his team prepares for the Hall of Fame Game Thursday against the Baltimore Ravens.
In talking about Smith’s contract situation, first-year Bears head coach Matt Nagy did not seem optimistic that it will be resolved any time soon.
“It is at a stalemate, but at the same time I’m not going to get into any more of where it’s at publicly,” Nagy told reported after practice Tuesday, via the team’s official website. “I don’t think it’s fair to him, I don’t think it’s fair to his agent, I don’t think it’s fair to our organization. We’re going to keep it between us and I think that’s the best thing to do right now.”
Unlike other first-round picks that have held out of camp in recent years (Joey Bosa, for example), the issue here is not off-set language. Rather, the Bears want language in Smith’s contract that voids guaranteed cash should he be suspended under new NFL rules relating to head-first hits.
This is seemingly a team-specific issue and demand. And in reality, it’s not painting Chicago in the best of lights.
The No. 8 overall pick in this year’s draft, Smith is being relied on to be a top-end contributor out the gate. The longer he holds out, the less likely that’s going to be.