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Roquan Smith asked the Bears to move on from him this summer. Three months later, that request has been granted, as the Pro Bowl linebacker is on his way to Baltimore for the next 10 weeks. Smith is playing out the 5th-year option of his rookie contract, and is currently scheduled for unrestricted free agency next March.

The Traded Contract

Smith entered 2022 on a $9.3744M 5th-year option. His remaining salary at the November 1 deadline is $5.408M. The Bears agreed to retain $4.833M of that balance, sending Smith to the Ravens on a minimum $575,000 salary for the remainder of 2022.

Original Salary: $9.3744M
Deadline Salary: $5.408M
Minimum Deadline Salary ($1.035M/18)*10: $575,000
Retained by Chicago: $8.799M

The Trade Compensation

In return for Smith, the Bears received LB A.J. Klein ($497,2200, a 2023 2nd round pick, & a 2023 5th round pick. Chicago negotiated a better draft pick package by agreeing to retain nearly all of the remaining salary on Smith’s contract this season.

Bears’ Projected 2023 Draft Picks
(excluding compensatory picks)

2nd (BAL)
4th (PHI)
5th (BAL)

Roquan’s Next Contract

The move to Baltimore puts Smith’s rookie extension back in full focus, something the Bears weren’t willing to consider in their current rebuild window.

Smith carries a $16M valuation in our system to date, but it’s highly realistic to assume that he’ll be seeking a deal at or above Shaquille Leonard’s $19.7M per year deal with the Colts. Leonard’s $52.5M in practical guarantees is also the off-ball linebacker bar, while C.J. Mosley’s $43M guaranteed at signing is the current (but probably unrealistic) high. The highest total value off-ball linebacker contracts currently stand at:

Shaquille Leonard: $98.5M
Fred Warner: $95.2M
C.J. Mosley: $85M
Zach Cunningham: $58M
Deion Jones: $57M

As the #8 overall selection back in 2018, Smith is the highest drafted player in this subset. The advanced metrics have never been friendly to him, and his career season high sack total is 5 (rookie season) - so there’s at least some argument to be made that a market reset isn’t a lock here.

One thing’s for certain: With Lamar Jackson destined for the Baltimore franchise tag next February, Roquan Smith won’t be receiving one of those. Will a 5 year, $90M contract with $45M practically guaranteed get the job done?