Chicago Bears: Roquan Smith needs to step up

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

Roquan Smith was billed as a leader coming out of the University of Georgia. It’s time for him to act like one.

A few weeks ago, I wondered whether it was time to worry about Roquan Smith’s contract situation. At the time, I never could have imagined the Chicago Bears‘ first-round draft pick would still be a “no-show” at training camp. Yet here were are.

The drama that has unfolded over that time has been full of twists and turns. At one point, public opinion was decidedly against the Bears. Now it has shifted decidedly against Smith. And rightly so.

The Bears did the right thing and conceded on Smith’s desire to guarantee his money even if suspended due to the new ambiguous helmet rule. They met Smith in the middle which was the right thing to do. However, that apparently was not enough for Smith and his agents who are pushing the envelope. Typically, you can measure a fair deal by whether both parties come out unhappy. But Smith’s team appears to be pushing for much more.

Now the Smith camp wants his money guaranteed even for off-the-field transgressions. To a limited extent, I understand and even appreciate the agent’s zealous representation. After all, it’s their job to get the best deal for their client.

However, the agent is acting on behalf of the client –meaning, none of this can be done without Smith’s express or implied consent. In other words, he could end this all right now — and yet he doesn’t.

Instead, he chooses to be away from his teammates. He chooses to miss out on the shared experience of training camp, where relationships are forged — especially with the new coaching staff. He chooses to set an example different from the one set by Bears legend Brian Urlacher, the contrast to whom could not have been more stark this past weekend.

If Smith is as genuine and sincere as he has been portrayed — and I have no reason to doubt he is — then he needs to step up and end this absurd dispute. If he truly wants to follow in the footsteps of the Bears’ legendary middle linebackers, then he’ll sign the contract.

Next. Kevin White has earned nothing yet. dark

Otherwise, he won’t. At this juncture, it really is that simple. There is no ambiguity. He either wants to be on the field, or he wants to put his own interests ahead of the team’s by demanding contract language that is entirely atypical in the NFL. The longer this drags on, the louder the chorus of boos will be if he stumbles out of the gate.

As the old saying goes, “the new guy should have very little to say and everything to prove.” While Smith hasn’t said much so far, his actions, or lack thereof, have spoken volumes.