The Chicago Bears are going into the 2022 NFL season on a high note.
They finished the preseason with an undefeated record, giving them momentum going into Week 1 of the regular season.
However, not everything is perfect in Chicago for the Bears.
They are dealing with a problem on a contract extension with linebacker Roquan Smith.
The problem got so bad that he requested the team to trade him.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 9, 2022
So should the Bears move him for another player or draft picks?
Smith Is Too Valuable To The Defense
Trading their All-Pro linebacker isn’t a good move for Chicago’s defense.
He is the only defensive leader the team has, after trading Khalil Mack and releasing several other key defensive players.
While the team has Eddie Jackson, his role isn’t as important as the one Smith currently holds on defense.
However, keeping Smith won’t be cheap for the Bears, who are currently rebuilding their team.
But even during a rebuild, your team needs leaders for both sides of the ball.
While Justin Fields is the team’s offensive leader, Smith is that defensive mind who can lead the team now and in the future.
So what’s the asking price for the Bears linebacker that’s stalling the contract extension process?
Smith Wants Elite Linebacker Pay
The Bears are no stranger with defensive players having large contracts.
That was their situation with Mack after they made a deal to trade for him.
Everyone saw how that ended for both him and the Bears.
However, if rumors are true, Smith could seek a contract worth more than $22 million a year.
There are reports that Roquan Smith wants $22M per year. That is in my opinion way too much for a LB. Unless you want your offense to continue to suffer a trade may be necessary, that much money would only benefit Smith, not the team. 17-18 for 5 years is more than fair imo.
— MidwaySportsCoverage (@sports_midway) August 9, 2022
If the Bears feel he will turn into another Mack, they might cut ties with him as well.
They can easily trade him for multiple draft picks or a player package.
But that move leaves the defense without a veteran leader outside of Jackson.
However, is Smith worth the money he wants, or is he better off on another team?
A Clear Top-Ten Linebacker
If the question is about Smith’s value, he’s proven he’s a top ten linebacker.
However, he’s not a linebacker that deserves the highest contract in the NFL for his position.
There’s no doubt Smith deserves a bigger contract.
But he’s not yet worth that $22 million that some rumors have him asking for currently.
Yet, he’s a coverage linebacker, something that increases his value.
In 2020, he ranked first in tight coverage.for linebackers when targeted.
T-1. Roquan Smith – 16
T-1. Eric Wilson – 16 👀
3. Lavonte David – 14 🐐
T-4. FRED WARNER – 13 💰
T-4. De'Vondre Campbell – 13
— Jon Macri (@PFF_Macri) July 22, 2021
Fred Warner, who got an enormous deal in 2021, ranks fourth in the same category from 2020.
However, Smith’s weakness in stopping the run hurts his value.
All these things make him a top ten linebacker, instead of the number one linebacker in the NFL.
But he can easily put all this to rest in 2022.
While he was staging a hold-in, much like wide receiver Deebo Samuel, it hasn’t gotten meaningful results in contract talks.
Ultimately, the Bears have a tough choice to make with him.
It’s hard to let someone of his talent go.
However, if the two are unwilling to come to terms, the Bears should trade him now to get the best bang for their buck.