Bears General Manager Ryan Poles says he didn’t want to trade linebacker Roquan Smith to the Ravens, but ultimately determined that there was no way the Bears would keep him in free agency next year, and it was better to get something for him now.
“There’s a part of me that’s bummed because this was a guy that I thought was going to be here for a long time,” Poles said. “I felt like we put a lot of effort forward to get that done. We came up short, we couldn’t find common ground, and that’s just a part of this business, which I think we all understand.”
Of course, what that means is that Poles and the Bears weren’t willing to pay Smith as much money as Smith expects to get paid on his next contract. It’s highly likely that the Ravens are planning to pay Smith what it will take to keep him, as they wouldn’t trade a second-round pick and a fifth-round pick for him if they were expecting him to leave in free agency after the season.
NFL teams are increasingly deciding that even the best off-ball linebackers like Smith just aren’t worth the cap space required for a massive contract like the one Smith is surely seeking. Poles seems to have calculated that Smith will soon cost more than the Bears will devote to any off-ball linebacker, and so they’ve traded him to a team that values him more.