If you foresaw the Roquan Smith trade drama taking this kind of turn, consider buying yourself a lottery ticket tonight. Because the latest news about the Chicago Bears linebacker has pushed the story from "unexpected but normal" to "really weird" with alarming speed.
NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported on Monday that an unknown person who isn't a certified agent has called several clubs to discuss a possible Smith trade. It's not known if this is someone associated with Smith or an unrelated person.
Pelissero also reported that the NFL Management Council sent a warning to all teams, reminding them that taking a call with a player under contract or their agent is tampering, and they're prepared to dole out serious punishment if anyone breaks the rules.
“Tampering is a corrosive problem that undermines both the integrity of the game and relationships among clubs. Accordingly, in the event that tampering is found, the Competition Committee has recommended the imposition of more stringent discipline than…imposed in prior years.”
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) August 15, 2022
Why does Smith want a trade?
Smith, who was picked eighth overall by the Bears in the 2018 draft, recently requested a trade. He released a statement to the media detailing why he wants out of Chicago. Largely, Smith wants out because he feels like the Bears new front office, headed by Ryan Poles, doesn't value him. He felt disrespected by their "take it or leave it" contract offer that he considered to be bad for him and the "entire linebacker market."
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 9, 2022
Despite playing for the Bears, a team that has spent the last few years struggling in a variety of ways, Smith is a standout at linebacker. He's making just over $9 million this year (which is the final year of his rookie deal), so it's understandable that he wants a new contract.
But that presents a problem for Smith: he doesn't have a lot of (or really any) leverage. He's under contract this year, and could be franchise tagged next year. Unless the Bears think they could get a decent return for him, there's no reason to trade him.