Roquan Smith's cold war with the Chicago Bears has subsided. The team announced Saturday that the All-Pro linebacker practiced for the first time since the start of training camp, which comes after Smith publicly requested a trade due to an ongoing contract dispute. However, the tides have seemingly turned, as the NFL Network reports that he plans to play out his contract and will be a full go moving forward.
"Obviously, Roquan was out there today," said head coach Matt Eberflus. "We were super excited about that. He did individual today. He's in a ramp-up phase to get back to action. All along, he's been conditioning with the strength staff on the side and he's doing good there. Now, we're just ramping him up to play football. There's a process to that and we're in that process right now."
Eberflus did not comment on Smith's contract status, noting that is between the player and GM Ryan Poles.
Smith is currently signed through the 2022 season and is slated to hit unrestricted free agency next offseason. In his, the 25-year-old noted that the organization wasn't negotiating in good faith and that "the new front office regime doesn't value me here."
"I thought [the contract discussions were] very distasteful to say the least," Smith told reporters Saturday. "Wasn't what I anticipated nor what I expected from the situation. ... Now, I'm just shifting my focus to the season and more so just focused on being the best teammate that I can be to those guys in the locker room. It's the last year of my deal and I'm just going to take it, run with it and bet on myself like I've always done."
Smith added that "negotiations are over right now" between him and the Bears. So, it sounds like Smith will now play out the year and figure out his long-term future in the offseason, which brings this saga with the Bears to a momentary close.
Smith has played his entire career with the Bears after the club took him with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft out of Georgia. He's coming off back-to-back second-team All-Pro seasons and is widely looked at as one of the best off-ball linebackers in the league. In 2021, Smith finished with a career-high 163 tackles to go along with three sacks and three pass breakups.