The Bears spent a first-round pick on Roquan Smith to rejuvenate their defense. Unfortunately, Matt Nagy has no idea when the linebacker might report.
Roquan Smith is the only first-round draft pick who isn’t on the field for the team that selected him. That can’t sit well with Matt Nagy and the rest of the Chicago Bears coaching staff. Unfortunately, Nagy doesn’t have any idea when the rookie linebacker might be available to contribute for Chicago on the field.
Smith’s holdout currently stands at 23 days and counting. That’s starting to become a real issue for Vic Fangio’s defense. The team selected Smith with the idea he would be their starter at weakside linebacker from day one. That fact that he’s already missed so much practice time will make it very difficult for him to contribute anything meaningful as a rookie.
Even worse from the perspective of Bears fans is the reality that their head coach claims he has “no idea” if or when Smith’s holdout might actually end. That sort of statement shouldn’t engender much hope that the talented linebacker will be on the practice field anytime soon. It seems this is the sort of holdout that could easily last right up until the beginning of the regular season.
The obvious question to ask here is who is at fault. On one hand, Smith and his representatives do seem to be negotiating a little too hard. There may be a valid concern on their behalf regarding guaranteed money, but it’s not something that’s prevented every other rookie from finding his way into camp.
On the other hand, it’s entirely possible that the Bears front office is drawing a tougher line than any other NFL franchise. That’s unlikely, but not impossible. After all, Chicago hasn’t struggled to get any of its other draft picks into camp on time.
In the end, the most likely truth is that both sides share some of the blame. Getting the last first-rounder on the board into camp shouldn’t be that difficult. There’s only so much variance in compensation between picks selected in the same range. The two sides shouldn’t be having this much trouble getting something done. It’s time for the Bears and Smith to focus and come to an agreement.