Roquan Smith wants to leave the Bears after failed contract talks, but anyone outside of Chicago who tries to help the star linebacker get his wish faces potential punishment from the NFL. Despite Smith publicly anticipating a relocation ahead of the 2022 season, the league reminded teams Monday that any contact with Smith, or a person claiming to represent the Pro Bowler, constitutes tampering, according to NFL Media, and would warrant “more stringent discipline than … imposed in prior years.”
The “stringent” warning comes a week after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell disciplined, and lambasted, the Dolphins for prior “impermissible” communications with Tom Brady and Sean Payton, who were under contract with other teams. It also arrives days after ProFootballTalk reported that “a person purporting to represent Smith has been calling other teams in order to gauge potential trade interest.” Smith himself has reportedly failed to receive the Bears’ permission to explore a trade, even after declaring on social media his request to be dealt, and does not currently have a certified NFL agent.
Because Smith, who’s skipped practice at Bears training camp, remains under contract through 2022, Chicago technically does not have to permit trade talks between the linebacker — or an agent, should he officially hire one — and other teams.
Smith said previously he’s been trying to strike a new long-term contract with the Bears since April, but that team brass “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.” The 25-year-old former first-round draft pick, selected No. 8 overall in 2018, is due $9.7 million on the final year of his rookie deal. He is widely considered the centerpiece of Chicago’s defense, and is coming off an All-Pro 2021 season that included a career-high 163 tackles.