Why the Bears traded Roquan Smith to the Ravens and how the All-Pro LB fits in Baltimore
Authors: Kevin Fishbain, Adam Jahns and Jeff Zrebiec
- Baltimore will send second- and fifth-round picks and a veteran linebacker AJ Klein to Chicago, The Athletic confirmed.
- Baltimore’s middle linebacker play is inconsistent, and Smith, a two-time All-Pro, could be the long-term answer.
- All seven players the Bears drafted in 2018 are now on different teams or out of the NFL.
Smith, the No. 8 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, “held” a season ago while seeking a new contract from Chicago. However, he is at the end ended his hold and participated in training camp in late August, announcing that he would play out the remainder of his contract, which expires at the end of the 2022 season.
Smith started every game for the Bears this season, tallying an NFL-best 83 tackles, 2 1/2 sacks, two interceptions and three pass deflections. He had a career-high 163 tackles in 2021.
Why Baltimore made this trade
The Ravens have long prioritized the middle linebacker position. It’s probably the Ray Lewis effect. They just haven’t gotten consistent production out of the position this year.
Former first round pick Patrick Queen he’s been playing a lot better lately, but a center back Josh Bynes he was broken and sometimes struggled. And the Ravens just didn’t have much in the way of quality depth behind the starters. Smith anchors the Ravens at the position and brings leadership and playmaking ability to the middle of their defense. – A doe
Could Smith be a long-term fit with the Ravens?
You certainly could. The Ravens are very protective of their draft picks and trading away second and fifth rounds certainly suggests they don’t plan on Smith being just a rental.
Bynes, who was their starting middle linebacker, is on a one-year deal. The Ravens will have to make a decision on Queen’s five-year option this offseason, but it’s unlikely the Ravens will pick it up. Smith does not have an agent, and general manager Eric DeCosta has experience with such arrangements in his quarterback contract negotiations Lamar Jackson. It would be surprising if DeCosta hadn’t already broached the subject with Smith. – A doe
Why Chicago made this trade
Although the Bears presented what they believed was a generous and competitive contract offer to Smith last summer, it likely would never get to where Smith wanted financially. This is not a regime that is willing to spend a large chunk of its cap space on an off-ball linebacker. The two sides are headed for the annual game of franchise tag chicken, or the Bears could try to get value for him in his prime. They found it with as much good capital as they’re going to get for anyone on the roster. – Fishbain
Did the Bears get enough back?
The Bears got more for Smith from the Ravens than they did for the pass rusher Khalil Mack. The Chargers gave the Bears a second-round pick in 2022 and a sixth-round pick in 2023 for Mack. The Bears later traded the sixth-rounder back to the Chargers for two seventh-round picks in 2022.
After the Smith trade, here’s the Bears’ 2023 draft cap NFL Draft: 1st, 2nd, 2nd (Baltimore), 3rd, 4th, 4th (Philadelphia), 5th, 5th (Baltimore) and 7th.. GM Ryan Poles now has a lot of work to do if he wants to maneuver the draft or try to make a trade for a receiver before Tuesday’s deadline. – Jahns
What happens next
The NFL trade deadline is Tuesday at 4:00 PM ET.
(Photo: Daniel Bartel / USA Today)
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