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Ryan Poles discusses Roquan Smith contract situation

Bears general manager Ryan Poles
Bears general manager Ryan Poles

Hours after Roquan Smith released a two-page statement requesting a trade, Bears general manager Ryan Poles addressed the situation in an impromptu press conference after Tuesday's Family Fest practice at Soldier Field.

The All-Pro linebacker, who is entering the final season of his five-year rookie contract, wrote that he wants to be dealt to another team in part because he feels the Bears don't value him and haven't negotiated in good faith.

"I'll double down on what I've said before," Poles told reporters. "My feelings for Roquan haven't changed at all. I think he's a very good football player. I love the kid. I love what he's done on the field, which makes me really disappointed with where we're at right now. I thought we'd be in a better situation, to be completely honest with you.

"In terms of our philosophy in the front office, I've always believed and always will that we take care of our homegrown talent. We pay them, we take care of them and we take everyone for what they've done and what they can become in the future. And with this situation, we've showed respect from a very early timeframe, and with that said, there's record-setting pieces of this contract that I thought were going to show him the respect that he deserves, and obviously that hasn't been the case.

"With that said, we can't lose sight that this isn't about one player. My job is to build a roster that's going to sustain success for a long period of time. At the end of the day, we've got to do what's best for the Chicago Bears."

Selected by the Bears with the eighth pick in the first round of the 2018 draft out of Georgia, Smith has been named second-team All-Pro each of the past two seasons. In 2020, he finished second in the NFL with 96 solo tackles and tied for second with 18 tackles-for-loss, the most by a Bears player since Hall of Fame middle linebacker Brian Urlacher had 19 in 2002.

Last season, Smith recorded a career-high 163 tackles with 12 tackles-for-loss, 3.0 sacks and one interception that he returned 53 yards for a touchdown. He has compiled at least 100 tackles in each of his four seasons, the first Bears player to accomplish that feat in any four-year span since Lance Briggs did so in six consecutive seasons from 2004-09.

Smith participated in the entire offseason program. But he has been on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list since the start of training camp.

Asked if he intends to comply with Smith's request to trade him, Poles said: "Right now my intentions are to sign Roquan to this team. And we're going to take it day-by-day. At the end of the day, we've got to do what's best for this organization. But my intentions are to make sure Roquan Smith's on this team.

"We're doing everything we can to get this done."

Smith attended Tuesday's Family Fest practice, riding a stationary bicycle on the sideline with the other players who weren't participating in the workout. Asked what he took away from that, Poles said: "I think he wants to be a Chicago Bear."

Poles feels the Bears have shown Smith respect and negotiated in good faith.

"When we engaged and we brought it, we brought it," Poles said. "And I thought there was a lot of respect in where we're at right now. But obviously that's not good enough for him and his party. But I feel like we showed respect and showed value for what he is as a football player and what he can become."

Smith does not have an agent and has negotiated on his own behalf.

"There's emotions involved and it's tough," Poles told reporters. "It's a very unique situation that we've had to deal with and I thought we've done a pretty good job, which, again, that's why I'm a little disappointed we're at this spot. If anything changes I'll update you."

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