Bears coach Matt Nagy explained on Saturday that “very few” contracts protect players against having their future guarantees voided by a suspension arising from on-field misconduct. He may be right, but other players definitely have that protection, and it’s smart for more and more to try to do the same.
It’s also smart for more and more teams to provide that protection.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Roc Nation has secured this term in the contracts recently signed by Giants running back Saquon Barkley and Rams running back Todd Gurley. Given the position they play, a real possibility exists of being flagged, fined, ejected, and/or suspended for dropping their helmets and initiating contact while running between the tackles, or for using any portion of their helmets to butt, spear, or ram an opponent who is trying to tackle them. Especially since no one knows how aggressively the new helmet rules will or won’t be enforced.
Given that Smith’s four-year contract is fully guaranteed, and given that he plays linebacker, why shouldn’t he want that protection? It’s one thing to have guarantees wiped out due to off-field misbehavior. It’s quite another to risk forfeiting guarantees for simply doing what the coaching staff wants him to do.
So the Bears should budge on this one. Given that the Giants and Rams (wisely) already have, the Bears and all other teams should follow suit.