It’s the holdout no one seems to notice, possibly because of the position he plays. Bears linebacker Roquan Smith, the eighth overall pick in the draft, continued to be unsigned, more than a week after the team opened training camp.
So what’s going on? Previously, PFT reported that the contracts for the then-unsigned players at the bottom of the top 10 were being delayed both by roster bonuses structure and by language that would void the guarantees in the fully-guaranteed four-year contracts. While the specifics remain unclear, there’s a dynamic that specifically applies to Smith.
Smith plays linebacker. Linebackers make tackles. The helmets they wear may be involved in the tackling process. If the helmet strikes a player that linebacker is trying to tackle, the player may be flagged, fined, ejected, and/or suspended.
And if Smith is suspended for a violation of either of the two new helmet rules (yes, there are two), Smith’s guarantees would go away, making it easier for the Bears to dump him, if they don’t have to continue to pay him.
If that’s the issue, it makes sense for Smith to hold firm. It’s one thing for a player to be suspended for something he does away from work. If his suspension comes from his efforts to help the Bears win, the Bears shouldn’t be trying to wipe out his guaranteed money.
And if that’s the only issue, it’s time for this thing to get worked out, so that Smith can get ready for his rookie season.