Chicago Bears Rumors: Is Roquan Smith situation turning personal?

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

Chicago Bears rumors about the Roquan Smith situation continue to heat up.

Chicago Bears rumors about the Roquan Smith contract situation have been all over the place. As the stalemate closes in on a full month, the range of emotions felt by Bears fans has been all over the place.

As scant information flows about the details of the negotiations, the tide of support has seemed to shift. At first, fans seemed to place the blame for not getting a deal done on the Bears.

Initially, it was believed that the dispute was over whether the Bears would guarantee Smith’s money should he be suspended for violating the NFL’s new, and ambiguous “helmet rule.”

Most fans felt it was reasonable for Smith to request that. However, the Bears acquiesced on that point. In theory, it should have been the end of the holdout. Yet, Creative Artists Agency (CAA), the sports agency firm representing Smith, seemed to push the envelope.

What is the Sticking Point?

Based on reports, it now looks as though Smith, through his agents, is looking to guarantee his money should he be suspended for on-the-field, but non-football related matters. What could those be? Well, they could range from making contact with a referee to spitting in an opposing player’s face, both of which would likely result in a suspension and a forfeiture of salary.

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The Bears have balked at including this language. They are concerned with — and rightfully so — the precedent this could set with other players.

While it is highly unlikely Smith were to engage in any of these behaviors, the team has to be mindful of how it could impact future negotiations with other players.

Again, since it would seem to be so out of character for Smith to engage in this kind of conduct, it would seem his agents are the ones pushing this.

If true, it’s a shame that Smith is being used (and allowing himself to be used) so that his agents can score a win which they’ll use to woo future clients.

Is This Language Common?

Currently, CAA represents a total of eleven first round picks, all of whom have signed, except for Smith. They are Sam Darnold, Denzel Ward, Quenton Nelson, Josh Allen, Smith, Mike McGlinchey, Marcus Davenport, Tremaine Edmunds, Isaiah Wynn, Terrell Edmunds, and Sony Michel. Of those rookies, six are represented by Todd France, the lead agent for Smith. Those players are Allen, Smith, Tremaine and Terrell Edmunds, Wynn, and Michel.

Now, it has also been reported that only four rookies successfully had similar language inserted into their contracts. We don’t even know if any or all of those four players were represented by CAA. But for argument’s sake, let’s say that they all were. That means that 7 of 11 players represented by CAA would not have gotten that language.

One would assume that they would have pushed for it for all of their first round picks, but especially the six they had drafted in the top ten. The point is, it is highly likely that the majority of CAA’s clients drafted in the first round did not get this language in their contract. So what’s different about the Bears? Why did CAA concede so quickly in those cases but not with Chicago?

One explanation is that this is being driven by Smith. In other words, the other players were ok not getting that language, but Smith is insistent in be included. While possible, it seems unlikely that he would dig his heels in on this issue.

The more likely explanation is that there is something more specific to the relationship between CAA and the Bears. So what could that “something” be?

What’s Unique about the Bears?

Well, this one is harder to pinpoint. While it is unclear why CAA initially dug in against the Bears, it seems the stalemate has turned personal. According to a recent report from the Chicago Tribune, the two sides don’t appear to be engaging in any meaningful negotiations.

The fact that neither side seems to have a sense of urgency to get a deal done for the only remaining unsigned top-ten pick, you have to wonder whether it is personal at this point.

Do the Bears feel as though CAA is trying to take advantage of them? Do they feel as though CAA is trying to take advantage of their good-faith in acquiescing to the helmet rule language?

On the other hand, does CAA feel as though a former client of theirs was treated unfairly by the Bears?

Again, this is all speculation at this point, but there are few things that would cause both sides to walk away from the negotiating table — and having negotiations turn personal is one of them.

Maybe CAA is simply trying to take advantage of a franchise down on its luck like they did with the Los Angeles Chargers when they drafted Joey Bosa. It’s possible things started out that way, the Bears realized what they were trying to do, and things devolved from there.

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Bottom Line

There are only a handful of people close to the situation who truly know the situation. The rest of us are just trying to read the tea leaves. At the moment, they tell us that neither side appears to be willing to make any concessions. If true, it will take one side to be the bigger person and get the parties back to the negotiating table. Based on what we know of Smith and his character, he could be the best hope to make that happen.