Another problem faced by general manager Ryan Pols in his first year ended with Roquan Smith’s return to practice.
The entire hold-in process shows how little a player gains in such situations while also underlining what neophytes can do when they do battle.
Until Smith went public with a letter blasting Bear, he was as close to a model citizen as possible in this situation. No one would expect a player seeking an extension to spend all offseason doing voluntary work and mandatory work, but Smith did. Meanwhile, starter Robert Quinn has a contract this year nearly double that of Smith and gave up everything in the offseason. Go to figure.
However, publicly ripping the Bears while Pols was sitting on the high ground as a first-year GM was one of the dumbest tactics Smith could have taken.
The Poles need to do something extremely damaging to the organization to knock them down a peg in their first year, and contract negotiations with a weakside linebacker aren’t going to do it.
Because the only thing he could do was withhold services at his own expense from a team that many believed would struggle whether he played or not, Smith only hurt his chances for a final deal in Chicago.
His trade request may actually succeed in the future, however, as the Poles will have nearly unlimited salary cap cash available and a full slate of draft picks to find another weak-side linebacker at a low cost in the offseason if Smith is any way. a disappointment Or he could just tag Smith and keep him next year for the average salary of the top five linebackers.
However, the Bears do not appear unscathed from this entire debacle.
Here are the lessons learned from the great Roquan Smith hold-in of 2022 training camp on both sides.
1. Get an agent
And if you fire yours, get another one that’s sanctioned by the players’ association.
“No, I don’t regret not having an agent in the process,” Smith said. “I think it’s just a bunch of excuses when people say that. Times are changing and I think the players want to be at the table to know what’s really going on, what’s being said because a lot of people can say that. A lot of different things but when you’re there , you see it with your own eyes, you know for a fact what’s going on.”
This is exactly why you hire an agent you trust for complete transparency. Hiring someone you don’t trust tends to backfire and doing it for yourself is the last thing in the world a player should do because not only are they going up against people who do this kind of work for a living, but they also get emotionally involved in the process. The agent is a filter for this. Smith admits as much, even if his conclusion that agents are unnecessary is rather laughable.
“It was very emotional for me because normally I don’t like to speak my mind too much but I felt it was time for me,” Smith said, referring to his decision to go public with his grievances. “And there were a lot of different things going on. Like a lot of different speculation and things of that nature, and I wanted the fans to know and the big city of Chicago to know what was really going on. Somebody really knew. A lot of people were kind of blindsided so I just I want to know that.”
They’re still in the dark because Smith stopped short of including cash demands and offers, but the sentiment was clear from the way he blasted Poles in his letter, via NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Emotions only get in the way of negotiations.
“I just learned how the business really works,” Smith said.
Not really. He learned how a small part of one aspect of it works or can work if you don’t hire a real agent. Continuing on this path in the future will only lead to bad results.
2. There’s a reason players don’t miss offseason work
This is the reason. Allen Robinson did and it burned him. He wasn’t on the same page in the passing game with Justin Fields or whoever played quarterback last year, then got hurt. And he missed all of the offseason work.
It’s different at linebacker.
No hitting is allowed, whatsoever. So what’s the best thing for linebackers to do in the offseason other than learn a new defense. The Tampa-2 style employed by the Bears is simple, and Matt Eberflus said as much. That’s the reason he says players can come in as free agents and pick it up quickly. So Smith should skip all the offseason work and let the Bears know he means business.
Perhaps he had received a more serious offer.
3. Bears can still be cheap
For decades the Bears had to overcome this largely fabricated accusation of doing things on the cheap. This was back in the George Halas days and things were very different then.
However, a team bearing such a label doesn’t want to get back in the saddle.
There is no reason to doubt Smith’s claim that the Bears wanted de-escalator clauses in the deal. This is such a ridiculous statement that no one makes it.
Sadly, something like this is little to ask for. It’s completely unusual for NFL players drafted in Round 1 to be asked to agree to this, especially with the eighth pick.
It’s cheap. Sounds like what Brian Doyle Murray did in the movie “Christmas Vacation,” when he gave everyone a jelly of the month club membership instead of their expected Christmas bonus.
Ryan Polls for Shame and George McCaskey for Shame.
Scroll to continue
Poles can be inexperienced but it doesn’t take experience to avoid being a cheapskate.
4. Compliments are only good, cash talk
McCaskey praised Roquan Smith as one of the players to get right after the team cut Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace.
Poles liked Smith.
“There’s been no change in my feelings for Roquan,” he said after the letter blasting the Bear talks came out. “I think he’s a very good football player. I love the kid, love what he’s done on the field – it really disappoints me (where) we’re at right now. I thought we’d be in a better situation. To be completely honest with you .”
The way to get better was by paying Smith.
This begs the question, how much does the current regime love Smith?
5. Close your mouth
As much as the media and fans love it, one of the worst things anyone can do is take their grievances into the public spotlight.
Smith has alienated the boss who loves him. Whatever the Poles say, this doesn’t sit well with him. If the Bears are on the fence about keeping Smith for big money in the future, he may have already cast the deciding vote for them with his mouth.
By saying he was betting on himself on Saturday, Smith accurately portrayed the future. However, he has put himself in an unnecessarily difficult position. Bears are less likely to do this.
If he’d done everything by the book quietly, badmouthing the team, the Bears could always sign him to a huge contract before free agency next March and there would be no face-saving on either side. Now there will be.
6. Never say never
Smith himself decided that the negotiations were over.
Never say never. A few games of great productivity in the regular season might convince the Poles to agree to what they want.
You never know, but a burnt bridge never makes sense.
7. Be verified before demanding
Smith has two second-team All-Pro selections. However, players and fans have not voted him as a Pro Bowl player. Pro Football Focus rated him as only the 62nd best linebacker in the league last year. He eventually cracked the top 100 for the NFL Network, as voted on by the players. But was only 84th.
More importantly, Smith still hasn’t proven he can be a weak side linebacker in a 4-3 like the Bears scheme to use.
It’s easier to make wild demands when you’ve already shown the team how indispensable you are. When the Colts paid nearly $100 million over five years for Darius Leonard, they already saw what he could do for a few years in their scheme.
It might be good for Smith to prove himself even more in this 4-3 before going public and you-know-what blowing up. Even a few games could have made a big difference.
It might not be a traditional negotiation to go a few games into the regular season and make some demands and then come to a deal, because Smith could get hurt in those few games and then where would he be?
Then again, he now has 17 games to play and survive. He must excel in the process. The odds were good if he only played a few games first and then made a deal.
Twitter: [email protected]