LAKE FOREST — One of the best players on a rebuilt Bears’ roster now would like to not be part of it moving forward.
On Tuesday morning, per a statement from the linebacker given to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Roquan Smith has requested a trade from the Bears.
“I have officially requested at trade; just writing these words is deeply painful,” said Smith in the statement.
Smith has started training camp on the PUP list and has not participated in on-field work since camp began two weeks ago. Before arriving at Halas Hall in July, it was reported that the linebacker was prepared to “hold-in” until he gets a new contract, which would mean he’d take part in everything except practices.
The injury that Smith has been dealing with has yet to be revealed by head coach Matt Eberflus.
In his statement to Rapoport, Smith talked about strife that has developed between himself and the new Bears’ football management, which is led by general manager Ryan Poles.
“Unfortunately, the new front office regime doesn’t value me here,” said Smith in the statement from Rapoport. “They’ve refused to negotiate in good faith, every step of this journey has been ‘take it or leave it.’ The deal sent to me is one that would be bad for myself, and the entire LB market if I signed it.
“I’ve been trying to get something done that’s fair since April, but their focus has been trying to take advantage of me. I wanted to be a Bear my entire career, help this team bring a super bowl back to our city. However, they have left me no choice than to request a trade that allows me to play for an organization that truly values what I bring to the table.
“I haven’t had the chance to talk to the McCaskey family, and maybe they can salvage this, but as of right now I don’t see a path back to the organization that I truly love.”
The eighth-overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Smith has developed into one of the best inside linebackers in all of football during the last four seasons. A two-time NFL All-Pro second team selection, Smith has led the Bears in tackles every season that he’s been with them, making a career-high 163 during the 2021 campaign.
Smith has 43 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, and five interceptions in 61 career games and was expected to be a leader of the defense in 2022. At the moment, however, that seems very much up in the air.