Smith has yet to agree to terms because the Bears want to be able to void his future guarantees if he’s suspended for on-field behavior. Smith has refused to accept that term given the current uncertainty surrounding the new helmet rules, which could in theory trigger widespread flags, fines, ejections, and suspensions.
In a Chicago radio appearance, Bears G.M. Ryan Pace refused to delve into specifics regarding the situation.
“That’s obviously a big topic right now,” Pace told WMVP-AM 1000, via the Chicago Tribune. “And for us, these are important and critical reps that are going on right now. But to get into the nitty gritty details isn’t something we feel we should do publicly. That’s behind the scenes. We have a lot of respect for him obviously and a lot of respect for his agents. And it’s a matter of just working through that.”
Of course, coach Matt Nagy already has disclosed enough of the nitty and/or gritty by confirming that the team wants to wipe out guarantees if Smith is suspended for using his helmet in a way that violates the new rules.
“The good thing is we have strong relationships with these agents,” Pace added. “We’ve dealt with them on a number of deals. It’s just working through those things. But to talk about anything related to contracts publicly is just not healthy. It’s not productive. But you can bet it’s important to us. It’s important to Roquan and we’re working on it.”
While there may be other issues that are being discussed, the potential impact on Smith’s guaranteed money due to a suspension under the helmet rule seems to be the biggest impediment. And the Bears should yield on this point, since it would simply give the team a blank check to eventually cut Smith and stiff him based on factors that go beyond the current control or understanding of player or team.