Roquan Smith decided to escalate things on Thursday when he publicly announced his displeasure with Chicago Bears GM Ryan Poles over contract negotiations. He demanded a trade, wanting to go somewhere he’d be treated with respect. A team that would value his worth. It was an obvious tactic to garner public sympathy. Other players have used it in the past, including this same off-season. Ask Deebo Samuel. The response he got probably wasn’t what he was hoping for.
It started with Poles calling an impromptu press conference after practice to discuss the situation. That is something Ryan Pace and previous Bears GMs never would’ve done. He explained his side of things, feeling negotiations had been going well. The public announcement came as a surprise and was more than a little “disappointing.” Poles expressed a clear desire to keep Smith in Chicago. That remains his primary goal. However, recent events lead one to believe he’s done playing nice.
#Bears roster move: LB Roquan Smith has been removed from the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.
— Bears Communications (@BearsPR) August 10, 2022
Per Article 20, Section 2 of the CBA, "Any player placed on a Physically Unable to Perform list (“PUP”) will be paid his full Paragraph 5 Salary while on such list."
— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) August 10, 2022
So no more "injury." By taking Roquan Smith off PUP, #Bears are declaring him healthy enough to practice. @RapSheet reports Smith "is not expected to begin practicing, regardless." This opens up the possibility of team discipline if he doesn't practice, but that's not required.
— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) August 10, 2022
The Chicago Bears placing Smith on the PUP felt like a gesture.
There were zero signs the linebacker was actually hurt when it happened. The thing about the PUP is that players still get paid their full salary when on it. By removing Smith now, the Bears are no longer obligated to do that. Everything about the move feels like a message from Poles that he can play hardball too. If the young linebacker wants his money, he now either has to return to practice or return to the negotiating table.
Smith certainly had some audacity when he showed up at Family Fest at Soldier Field just hours after his trade request dropped. Poles looked like a man that was genuinely surprised by the turn of events. He thought talks had been cordial and progress was being made. Clearly, that wasn’t the case, at least in Smith’s mind. The Chicago Bears tried to be nice. That didn’t work. So it appears they’ve decided to switch tactics. The linebacker may be more open to discussions when the money stops flowing.