A white flag of surrender is waving in Chicago as Bears general manager Ryan Poles has pulled off another massive trade.
The Bears sent linebacker Roquan Smith to the Baltimore Ravens on Monday, reportedly for a 2nd- and a 5th-Round draft pick.
Smith, 25, asked for a trade before the season began, but the Bears did not oblige. But now, with the season slipping through the cracks at 3-5, Chicago changed its mind.
The move hits as the Bears also traded veteran pass rusher Robert Quinn last week to the Philadelphia Eagles for a 4th-Round draft pick. Quinn and Smith formed the spine of Chicago’s defense, so it’s apparent that Poles’ rendition of a rebuild is underway. Through eight weeks, the Bears have just a 9% chance of reaching the postseason, according to FiveThirtyEight.
Smith commences his second act on a Ravens team heading in a different direction from the Bears. Baltimore has a 90% probability of making the playoffs, meaning Smith goes from rags to riches per wins and losses overnight.
By Pro Football Focus standards, Smith is an odd creature, constantly stuffing statsheets with tackles, sacks, and interceptions but never much love overall from the site. His 50.8 PFF grade through eight games ranks 64th in the NFL among off-ball linebackers. Still, Smith has tabulated a league-leading 83 combined tackles in 2022, plus 4 tackles for loss, 3 QB hits, and two picks, evidently more than enough for the Ravens to jump in with both feet.
The Ravens already employ a stellar linebacking corps with Patrick Queen and Odafe Oweh. Smith strengthens the Ravens defense as John Harbaugh’s group hopes to improve its 20th-best-in-the-NFL ranking per points allowed.
Via Twitter and NFL Network, Smith addressed the alleged headstrong nature of dealing with the Bears front office in August, “They’ve refused to negotiate in good faith. Every step of this journey has been ‘take it or leave it.’ The deal sent to me is one that would be bad for myself and for the entire LB market if I signed it.”
Too, Smith doesn’t have an agent.
It is unclear if the Ravens acquired Smith as a 2022 “rental” or long-term commodity. Smith hits free agency in March and will command a mammoth pricetag. Trading a 2nd- and 5th-Rounder for a player seems to indicate plans involving a prolonged relationship. But Baltimore must pay quarterback Lamar Jackson soon, and that contract will be groundbreaking.
The Ravens are projected to have about $49 million cap dollars available in 2023, the ninth-most in the league as of October 30th.
Chicago will have these draft picks in April and $100+ million in cap room for free agency:
- 1st Round (own)
- 2nd Round (own)
- 2nd Round (Ravens)
- 3rd Round (own)
- 4th Round (own)
- 4th Round (Eagles)
- 5th Round (own)
- 5th Round (Ravens)
- 7th Round (own)
The Vikings play the Bears again in Week 18 to close out the season.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).