Bears, Roquan Smith agree to $18M contract
The standoff between the Chicago Bears and No. 8 overall draft pick Roquan Smith is over.
A person familiar with the situation says the linebacker has agreed to a four-year contract that guarantees $18.5 million and includes an $11.5 million signing bonus. The person spoke Monday night on condition of anonymity because the deal has not been announced.
The Bears sent out a news release announcing Smith will be available to reporters after Tuesday’s practice, though they did not say an agreement is in place.
Smith is the final pick from this year’s NFL draft class to reach an agreement — because of a hangup over the contract language. The sides disagreed over whether the team would be allowed to take back guaranteed bonus money if he was suspended for disciplinary reasons, including a violation of the league’s new rule preventing players from leading with their helmet.
Smith participated in offseason activities, but has been absent since Chicago reported to camp on July 19 and has missed two preseason games. The Bears visit Denver on Saturday.
Smith is the first Chicago player of note to hold out since running back Cedric Benson missed 36 days in 2005. The Bears are usually among the first teams to sign all their picks.
With his speed and athleticism, Chicago views Smith as a potential cornerstone at inside linebacker for a defense that ranked 10th overall last year. Smith helped lead Georgia to the national championship game last season and was the Butkus Award winner as college football’s best linebacker.
Chicago has four straight last-place finishes in the NFC North and just one playoff appearance since the 2006 team’s Super Bowl run. The Bears fired coach John Fox and replaced him with Matt Nagy after last season.