Roquan Smith decided to turn up the heat this past week with his public criticism of the Chicago Bears front office. He accused them of trying to take advantage of him and not negotiating in good faith. As a result of this dastardly act, he has formally requested a trade. Anybody with common sense can see this as a negotiating tactic. Smith wants his contract extension, and by most accounts, he wants to be the highest-paid linebacker in the NFL.
The team has expressed their desire to get a deal done. GM Ryan Poles addressed the situation shortly after the trade demand went public. He believes in keeping homegrown players. At the same time, his top priority is doing what is best for the Bears. If Smith leaves him no other options, then a trade could happen. The obvious question becomes what sort of deal makes sense.
After examining the NFL landscape looking for landing spots, one deal stands out as not only a possibility, but one that works for both sides.
Roquan Smith for Chase Claypool and a 2nd round pick.
Why it makes sense for the Bears.
It is clear the relationship between Smith and Poles has gone frosty. The Bears GM was surprised and disappointed by the linebacker’s media stunt. While Poles maintains he wishes to keep the young defender, it’s also worth noting he has good reasons not to pay him. For one, Smith has never played outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense. That element of unknown has to be concerning. In addition, Poles doesn’t view off-the-ball linebackers as one of the premium positions on defense. He’d likely take it if he could find a way to avoid giving up the money while keeping fans happy.
One position that is in a full-blown crisis for the Bears is wide receiver. Darnell Mooney looks like he’ll continue being a stud. Beyond him, it gets ugly fast. Byron Pringle, N’Keal Harry, Velus Jones, and David Moore are all out with injuries. Even when healthy, none of them looked like true standout weapons. Claypool had over 800 yards in each of his first two seasons with 13 total touchdowns. He is 6’4 with genuine deep speed and just turned 24 years old. If the Bears wanted to arm their young quarterback, they could do much worse than a Mooney-Claypool combination.
Why it makes sense for the Steelers.
Pittsburgh had the worst run defense in the NFL last season. A big reason for that was an underachieving linebacker group. Former 1st round pick Devin Bush hasn’t lived up to their expectations, while Joe Schobert wasn’t the quick fix they’d been hoping for. They didn’t do much to fix the position either. The Steelers run a 3-4 defense. That means Roquan Smith would be an excellent fit at inside linebacker, a position he knows well.
Claypool has well-documented issues with head coach Mike Tomlin. The two have butted heads a few times over the past year. Pittsburgh signed Diontae Johnson to a contract extension and also drafted two receivers in George Pickens and Calvin Austin. Pickens is reportedly tearing Steelers training camp up. Claypool isn’t a necessity for them anymore, making him perfect trade bait.