The Bears continue their roster overhaul with the Roquan Smith trade

The Chicago Bears aren’t done selling yet.

Less than a week after trading veteran Robert Quinn to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Bears have agreed to terms on a deal that sends defensive cornerstone Roquan Smith to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for the second and fifth picks in the 2023 draft, as reported by FOX Sports NFL Insider Jay Glazer.

It comes a day before the league’s Nov. 1 trade deadline and reinforces a fact Chicago fans have known since the end of the season: The Bears are rebuilding.

Bears trade DE Robert Quinn to Eagles for fourth-round pick

Bears trade DE Robert Quinn to Eagles for fourth-round pick

Colin Cowherd reacts to the Oct. 26 Robert Quinn trade, then shares his updated Super Bowl bubble, including how it helps Philly.

Before training camp, Chicago allowed quite a few players to sign for free. New general manager Ryan Poles then flipped several picks in April’s draft in favor of later selections. He always stripped the team down to the basics in anticipation of a total overhaul. He just decided to stick with some core pieces for more leverage down the line – leverage he’s now making money from.

Smith was drafted in the first round (eighth overall) by the previous regime in 2018 and was entering the final year of his contract. When extension talks stalled during camp, the veteran defenseman demanded a trade.

“I thought it was very unpleasant, to say the least,” Smith said of the team’s contract proposal, which he mentioned included de-escalators over the years. “[It] it was not what i expected nor what i expected from the situation. But I am grateful to all the loyal fans, [for] the players in the locker room and the city of Chicago who stood behind me throughout this process. It means a lot to me myself.”

Smith didn’t get the deal at the time, and before the final preseason game, he said he had put it all behind him. He said he is focused on playing for his next contract and aims to be the highest paid player at his position.

“Now I’m just shifting my focus to the season and focusing even more on being the best teammate I can be for those guys in the locker room,” he said at the time.

Through eight games, Smith’s 83 tackles led the Bears and the entire league in that category. He also recorded 2.5 sacks this season, two interceptions and three pass breakups. Smith’s single-season high is 5.0 sacks, which he is currently on pace to surpass.

He has been a bright spot for a Chicago defense that is giving up the second-most rushing yards per game despite ranking fifth in passing yards allowed per game. Given Smith’s involvement in the pass rush this season, his absence will undoubtedly affect one of Chicago’s strengths. Now the question remains how much.

Bringing back the second and fifth rounds in next year’s draft puts even more focus on 2023, and frankly, the deal was a smart move by the Poles. Chicago now has nine picks in next April’s draft, including one in each round and two in the second, fourth and fifth rounds. Considering the Poles were able to land four starters from this year’s rookie class, the Bears should be able to make big strides in the offseason.

Coupled with the fact that they have more than twice the cap space of the league’s second-highest team without having to pay top defender Smith, who Spotrac values ​​at around $17 million per year, the Bears can now spread even more resources for big-name free agent prospects. According to Spotrac, Smith’s deal after June 1 leaves the Bears with $0 in dead money.

However, the intangible assets of the trade remain in question. Smith was the team captain, along with Quinn, meaning Chicago lost a significant amount of leadership in the locker room. Smith was the more vocal of the two defensive captains and is known as a good teammate. After the Quinn trade, Poles said even he was hesitant to mess with the chemistry the Bears were creating in the locker room, realizing the potential fallout from making those business decisions.

Smith was emotional last week when he learned of the Quinn trade in real time to reporters. But maybe Smith wasn’t just upset to see a close friend and teammate go. Maybe he knew the writing was on the wall for him too.

The 3-5 Bears play at home Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.

Carmen Vitali covers the NFC North for FOX Sports. Carmen has had previous stops with The Draft Network and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. She spent six seasons with the Bucs, including 2020, which added the title of Super Bowl champion (and parade floater) to her resume. You can follow Carmen on Twitter at @CarmieV.

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