Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith is one of the best players in the country and he will be in the mix for a few potential top-five picks in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Just days after Roquan Smith’s new contract was announced, his deal will be impacted by the recent signing of Aaron Donald. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that the Chicago Bears will not be offering Smith a long-term deal, but instead will offer him a “high” level of security in the form of three out of four of the first-round picks in the 2018 NFL Draft.

The NFL has a problem. Star players who are franchise cornerstones are signing long-term deals with the league’s most lucrative franchises at unheard of rates. This is a problem that is not only having a negative impact on the league’s television ratings and revenue, but it is having a negative impact on the game itself. The NFL has a handful of superstars, and it is not long before they are gone.

Roquan Smith Bears contract

Roquan Smith of the Chicago Bears is shown here.

Roquan Smith is the Chicago Bears’ defensive future, and he’ll get rewarded when the club signs him to a long-term contract. The Bears took up Smith’s fifth-year option, and if he performs well in 2021, he will become the first first-round draft choice that general manager Ryan Pace will extend a second deal to.

Following the recent blockbuster signing of linebacker Fred Warner to a five-year, $95 million contract by the San Francisco 49ers, Smith’s market has been very well established for Smith, who is coming off one of his most outstanding seasons in his short career. In 2020, he was named to the second team All-Pro after racking up 139 total tackles (98 solo, 18 for loss), four sacks, and two interceptions. PFF gave him a 67.2 overall grade, and he excelled in coverage, earning an 84.0 rating while allowing only a 75.8 passer rating when targeted by opposing quarterbacks.

Smith was the lone defensive starter present at the Bears’ OTAs in June, and at only 24-years-old, he’s poised to be the defense’s cornerstone.

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What Could Roquan’s Contract Look Like?

Warner’s agreement is most likely only the beginning. According to NFL insider Adam Schefter, Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard is expected to sign a four-year deal worth $19 million per year.

Darius Leonard of the Indianapolis Colts is the next linebacker up for a new contract, which is expected to be a four-year deal worth north of $19 million per year, according to sources.

July 21, 2021 — Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter)

Smith has been selected to the All-Pro second team once. Warner and Leonard have both been first-team All-Pros (Leonard twice), so it’ll be interesting to see if that makes a difference when it comes to negotiating Smith’s contract with Chicago.

According to pay cap analyst Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus, Smith is looking at a four- or five-year contract costing upwards of $20 million per year.

There’s no reason Roquan Smith won’t exceed both Fred Warner and the likely contract coming for Darius Leonard if he replicates his 2020 performance in 2021.

Along with Khalil Mack, he may be the second defensive player to make more than $20 million per year. https://t.co/HsOXquXxWW

July 21, 2021 — Brad Spielberger (@PFF Brad)

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Smith will have a big year in 2021.

Smith skirted the issue when questioned about signing a long-term contract with the Bears last month. “It’ll happen when it happens.” Right now, I’m not too concerned about it. On June 15, Smith said, “My primary focus right now is OTAs, getting out here with my teammates.”

“I certainly feel like I’m one of the leaders and stuff this season,” Smith said. “I believe I will speak out when necessary, but I am not a rah-rah person who goes out there and tries to tell everyone what to do. I get the impression that we’re all grownups here. We are aware of what is correct and what is incorrect. We can tell whether we’re doing the correct things or not. So it’s simply a matter of each person holding themselves accountable.”

Smith did say, though, that a new contract was something he “definitely” desired.

Roquan Smith continues, “Definitely something that I desire” is a new contract in Chicago. #Bears

June 15, 2021 — Zack Pearson (@Zack Pearson)

 

Smith’s performance this season will be crucial, since it will almost certainly decide how much the Bears give him.

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