CHICAGO — Byers is a linebacker Roquan Smith He said in a written statement that he requested a trade after contract negotiations between himself and the organization reached an impasse.
Smith wrote a report Posted on social media by NFL Network On Tuesday. ESPN has confirmed the validity of these reports.
The 25-year-old linebacker said he had been pushing for an extension since April after Smith said “the new front office regime doesn’t respect me here.”
“They refused to negotiate in good faith,” Smith wrote. “Every step of the journey has been ‘take it or leave it’. The contract I’ve been sent is one that would be detrimental to me and the entire LB market if I sign it.”
Since the Bears drafted him eighth overall in 2018, the former Georgia standout has had 14 sacks while recording at least 101 tackles and an interception in every season he’s played. Smith was set to make $9.7 million in the final year of his rookie deal and was placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list when he went to camp in late July.
Smith accused the Bears’ front office of “trying to take advantage of me” and that the organization had “no choice but to request a trade that would allow me to play for an organization that truly values what I bring to the table.”
In April, Smith expressed confidence that he would remain in Chicago long-term with a new contract and be a full participant during voluntary workouts and mandatory minicamp. In his statement, the linebacker said he wants to stay with the Bears his entire career.
At the start of training camp, first-year general manager Ryan Boles expressed his desire to reach an agreement on an extension for Smith before the regular season.
“My feelings for Roquan have never changed,” Boles said on July 26. “I love the player and the person. That’s not going to change. I’ll ask everyone here, I know I’m going to get a lot of questions, I get it. I’m not going to talk about contracts and everything, so I wanted to make sure we addressed that.”
Smith has been at Hallus Hall every day during training camp and can often be seen riding a stationary bike during practice. Coach Matt Eberflus addressed Smith’s expectations when he was on the PUP list in July.
“Be persistent, be a leader, be engaged, he does and will,” Eberfluss said. “He’s a pro. He’s been in the league a long time. He’s a very good player. We’re excited to have him as a Chicago Bear. He’ll make it.”
In his statement, Smith apologized to Bears fans, while not expressing hope that negotiations would return.
“I haven’t had a chance to talk to the McCaskey family, maybe they can save this, but right now I don’t see a path back to the company that I really love,” Smith said.