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Chicago Bears All-Pro Roquan Smith to hold out from training camp, wants new contract

Vincent Frank

Chicago Bears linebacker Roquan Smith is one of the few familiar faces remaining with the team as they begin a rebuild under first-year head coach Matt Eberflus.

Unfortunately, the two-time Pro Bowl linebacker will not be with the team when it reports to training camp on Tuesday.

NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reports that the 25-year-old Smith has opted to hold out from training camp as the former first-round pick looks for a new contract.

“Bears All-Pro LB Roquan Smith will not be participating in training camp when veteran report tomorrow, sources say, because of his contract situation. Smith has not yet received an offer he would remotely consider, thus he’ll wait.”

Report on Roquan Smith holding out

The No. 8 overall pick of Chicago back in 2018, Smith earned Second-Team All-Pro honors in both 2020 and 2021. He’s entering a contract year and wants to be paid like a top-end linebacker in the NFL.

Related: Roquan Smith and top 2023 NFL free agents

Roquan Smith holdout and what it means

chicago bears: roquan smith
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Smith will be fined as long as his holdout continues. With that said, it puts a lot of pressure on new general manager Ryan Poles to get something done. Smith is the anchor of the Bears’ defense and their play-caller. He needs as many reps as he can get under first-year coordinator Alan Williams.

  • Roquan Smith contract: $9.74 million base salary in 2022; free agent in 2023

To put this into perspective, Smith’s salary in 2022 ranks 14th among NFL inside linebackers. He’s more than outpaced that contract.

The former Georgia standout recorded 163 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and an interception for the Bears a season ago. Back in 2020, he dominated in pretty much every imaginable way.

  • Roquan Smith stats (2020): 139 tackles (18 for loss), 4 sacks, 2 interceptions, 59.6 QB rating allowed

It’s vital that the Bears get Smith back in the mix sooner rather than later. If not, this new regime will find itself off to a shaky start with training camp opening up.