Bears move a little on voiding of Roquan Smith guarantees, but not far enough

Getty Images

There’s good news, sort of, regarding the Bears’ impasse with No. 8 overall draft pick Roquan Smith.

According to David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune, the Bears finally have conceded that the Bears won’t void Smith’s future guarantees if the league suspends him for violating the rules regarding the use of the helmet. However, the Bears haven’t gone far enough to get the deal done.

The Bears still want to be able to void future guarantees if Smith is suspended for something that happens on the field beyond the confines of a play — a late hit, a fight, physicality that occurs while a player is defending himself against an attack by an opponent, inadvertent contact with an official, or anything else that could prompt the league office to impose a suspension that is later upheld on appeal. Smith’s camp, per a league source, wants Smith to be protected against the team having the ability to wipe out guarantees over a suspension arising from one hit or one post-play brouhaha.

To their credit, the Bears deftly have couched this dynamic as a “behavior clause,” which makes the Bears sound fair and Smith’s agents seem unreasonable. But the behavior in question happens on the field during a game. It’s one thing for a player to be suspended for PEDs or illegal drugs or a violation of the Personal Conduct Policy. In those cases, the guarantees should void. But if a player ends up being suspended because of something that happens on the field in the heat of the moment and in blink of an eye (and there’s been an uptick lately in those kinds of suspensions), the team shouldn’t be allowed to then carry in its back pocket a license to later cut the player and stiff him out of his guaranteed pay.

Moreover, it’s unclear whether the Bears have fully given in as to the potential voiding of guarantees for a suspension arising from a violation of the still-vague helmet rules. The Bears possibly haven’t yielded much at all on this point, with only limited revisions as to the team’s discretion when exercising its right to void guarantees.

So while the Bears have move a little as to suspensions arising under certain rules that apply between the snap and the whistle, it’s still not nearly enough. Nothing that happens while the player is in uniform and working on behalf of the organization should be used to void guarantees, regardless of whether the Bears try to call it “behavior” or anything else that makes the event that would trigger a voiding of the guarantees sound far more worse than what it is: A football player on a football field doing football things.

49 responses to “Bears move a little on voiding of Roquan Smith guarantees, but not far enough

  1. Or, Roquan Smith can sit out the year, without getting paid, and see where he gets drafted next year. When he is a year older.

  2. Is Roquan a bad apple or something??
    I’m wondering why the Bears are SO afraid of his behavior??

  3. This tug of war is interesting. There are definitely behaviors on the field that warrant a player’s guarantees being voided though.

  4. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the McCheapees, McWalmarts, McAmazons, etc……the point 1 %ers.

  5. the tightfisted Bears oligarchy strikes again. basically they now are saying they dont think he can control himself but yet they drafted him with their 1st pick.
    i mean that cant be anywhere close to logical nor can it be a philosophy that will result in a winner long term

  6. This might get to the point that if he is the player most think the only way he stays in Chicago after this contract will be if there is different management. With the Bears that is almost certain to be the case.

  7. With all the talk about getting serious about safety, maybe voiding money instead of just fines and suspensions is a step in the right direction to get players seriously on board. I’m not sure I agree with my own take here, I’m just saying this is an angle that hasn’t really been discussed.

  8. Players have professional agents who negotiate with the teams. There is no such thing as “should be” in an arms length contract, both sides will try to get as much as they can, and if/when they sign a contract, both sides will have fully understood (and agreed to) the ramifications of every clause.

  9. So what “happens while the player is in uniform and working on behalf of the organization” is special, but the uniform and organization they are working for are unimportant when they want to kneel during the anthem.

  10. Nothing that happens while the player is in uniform and working on behalf of the organization should be used to void guarantees,

    Vontez Burfect Agrees

  11. Good points (shocking to agree with you, for once) – the only counter-point I would offer, would be “Vontaze Burfict” clause. This would be a player that displays a HABITUAL tendency of late/dirty hits (which can cost a team games) – while on the football field as a football player… …a player like that should absolutely have their guarantees called into question, if they’re going to play football like that.

  12. MF is wrong, the Bears are correct. It is a shame Smith feels he cannot control himself and is unwilling to take responsibility for his own potential actions.

  13. I’m a guy who normally will take the side of the player over the side of management in cases like this, but even *I* got a say the Bears front office has been reasonable here. I say let him sit at home until he realizes that fact.

    His agents (or maybe his inner circle) are not serving him well. Who is representing him anyway, Joey Bosa’s Mom?

  14. If I was a Bears fan I would be embarrassed! Talk about an organization looking cheap…this charade is a joke!

    No way should Smith give in. No other team has forced this Mickey Mouse kind of language into a 1st rounders contract. Smith needs to stand firm. The Bears need to get in touch with reality. To threaten to take guarantees from a player over things such as late hits will make players think twice about signing with the Bears in the future. I can’t imagine this sort of Paul Brown type maneuver will go over well in the Bears locker room

  15. Bears are showing why they struggle to win year in & year out. They aren’t focused on winning. This is more about getting rid of a player & the money they owe than getting a guy who can help the team into camp. Who else in the league has this sneaky behavior clause in their rookie contracts? Ridiculous.

  16. robertlseverson says:
    August 2, 2018 at 1:17 am
    I’m a guy who normally will take the side of the player over the side of management in cases like this, but even *I* got a say the Bears front office has been reasonable here. I say let him sit at home until he realizes that fact.
    His agents (or maybe his inner circle) are not serving him well. Who is representing him anyway, Joey Bosa’s Mom?
    Actually, your close- Brian Ayrault was the lead agent in Joey Bosa’s 31-day holdout. He’s the lead on this one as well. Same guy who is the agent for Aaron Donald who is holding out for the 2nd straight year. The word is that there is more involved than just the helmet rule involved with Roquan Smith and that his agents wanted to reach this point to paint the Bears in a negative light in order to put pressure on them- but who really knows?

    For those who think the Bears are cheap, they haven’t been for a long time, and they also didn’t go after Danny Trevathan’s guaranteed money when they could have when he was suspended last year.

    Obviously, no one outside of the Bears or Smith or the agents truly know what’s going on unless they’ve somehow gotten a hold of the contract and read the clauses and know the specifics. In the meantime, there are those will call the Bears “cheap”, or blame Smith and his agents, or blame Ryan Pace, without really having a clue as to what is going on and where the share of the blame falls.

  17. The Bears front office is jammed packed full of morons. It always has been. Yes, football is a business, but it’s also supposed to be form of entertainment. However, ever since the days when Mr. Halas wouldn’t pay Dick Butkus 100K a year, it’s always been about the money and not the product on the field. The impasse with Smith is stupid, but the Bears don’t care because, well, they don’t have to. The games will still be played and the revenue will still hit the gate. That’s all the owners want.

  18. Its time for George Mckaskey to get involved. This is turning out to be a Joke. The Bears have been in the toilet for the last 8 years or so, lets keep on showing our ineptitude. Ridiculous. What the hell are they thinking with in the front office?

  19. “Who else in the league has this sneaky behavior clause in their rookie contracts?”

    If you read the article that is cited, 28 teams have clauses that punish players for behavior. If you’re bad at math, that means 4 teams don’t care about behavioral issues… we can only guess which ones.

  20. It’s awfully hard for an NFL ILB to take on blockers, shed them AND make the tackle when management has their hands on his wallet on every play.
    If he’s got behavior issues (like Burfict) then he shouldn’t have been the #8 pick in the draft. Stop creating loopholes & get Smith on the field where he can help the Bears possibly win a few games.

  21. The Bears continue to throw wood into their dumpster fire. I see a 0-16 season…the Bears have yet to hit rock bottom, but I’m sure they will soon enough.

  22. Butkus was paid 100K a year in his second contract that began in 1970. The issue between him and Halas was when the Bears told him in 1974 that they wouldn’t honor his contract and didn’t properly pay for his medical care and other issues. That was 44 years ago. The Bears won a Super Bowl in 85 and returned in ’86. The front office and the McCaskeys have a history of ineptitude for sure, and though they seem to hire people that are poor talent evaluators, they are typically in the top half of the league in yearly spending.

  23. The Bears won a Super Bowl in 85 and returned in ’86.


    yeah no. as a diehard pats fan from mass living in Chicago where my wife is from…86 did NOT feature the Bears. that team never got back to the super bowl under Ditka…EVER. I am almost positive the Giants crushed the Broncos.

  24. If He turns into a Burfect, they have the option of Fining and Suspending him. Forfeiting his Bonus based on the whims of an Official’s on the field call is ridiculous and only a fool would agree to it. The Burfect example is a red herring and has no meaningful relevance.

  25. Can’t understand this AT ALL. If they were that concerned about him getting suspended then why did they draft him? If there was anything but an empty suit serving as commissioner the league would get involved and tell the Bears to just get the deal done.

    And they’ve already poisoned the well so even if he becomes a superstar he’ll be leaving for greener pastures the first chance he gets. What an epic fail by what passes for their front office.

  26. frank booth, you are 100% correct. In addition it has been reported that the clause specifically is for “Off the field behaviors” and that the Bears conceded the helmet issue in the contract some time ago. If I owned a franchise I would want the same protection. If you can’t behave, you don’t get paid.

  27. What this is really about is agents trying to justify their take when there is really very little to negotiate in a rookie deal. A player would be better off hiring a lawyer to look over the contract, and then hire an agent to represent him on his outside endorsement deals, etc. If the agent does a good job on that, the player can have the agent negotiate his second contract, where a good agent brings more value than his fees.

  28. This is standard contract language.’
    If you play like a J@cK@$$ you deserve to be fined and suspended.
    Keep it up, you deserve to get cut.

  29. If I was a player, I wouldn’t trust a team further than I can throw them. Nothing helps a team more than being able to get out from under guaranteed money in a contract they agreed to. I would do everything in my power to limit a team’s ability to do it as well.

    League suspensions are often arbitrary, inconsistent and questionable. There is no way in Hades I would want my contract status to depend on Roger Goodell’s judgement.

  30. Da Bears…….ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha….uh oh wait, say it again…..Da Bears….oooh ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha stop it. I can’t take it anymore ha ha ha ha ha.

  31. It’s sad to see the tone of this article defending poor player conduct. Players should be held accountable for how they behave, on and off the field. They shouldn’t get a free pass. Smith and his agents are being unreasonable. The good news for the Bears is Smith’s “backup” is playing lights out in camp. Maybe he’s the better option at this point.

  32. What is really striking is the last comment I submitted hours ago Re: Florio’s bias against the Bears in general hasn’t been posted yet. I also noted that notable Chicago sources outlets have suggested the Bears removed the “Helmet” issue from the contract and that the sticking point is the “off the field behavior”.

    For those that keep talking about guaranteed money…you can’t void away money that’s already been to a player. So before you go defending Smith and trashing the Bears, we need to know the terms that have been offered. If his signing bonus is the majority of the guaranteed deal, then this lies solely with Smith and his agency.

  33. Im here just to say something… IDC if it makes sense or has one shred of correctness, I just want to get my ignorant point out in the open so everyone can see that I have no clue!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.