The Bears made their second significant trade in less than a week Tuesday, dealing linebacker Roquan Smith to the Ravens in exchange for 2023 second- and fifth-round picks as well as veteran linebacker A.J. Klein.
Smith is in the fifth and final year of the contract he signed after being selected by the Bears with the eighth overall choice in the first round of the 2018 draft out of Georgia.
With no agent, Smith represented himself during offseason negotiations with the Bears on a long-term extension, but the two sides failed to reach an agreement.
Smith participated in the entire offseason program and reported to training camp. But he sat out the first three weeks of practice—and requested a trade Aug. 9—before ending his “hold in” Aug. 20. Upon returning to practice, he told reporters that negotiations were over and that he was going to bet on himself and shift his focus to the season and on being the best teammate possible.
Smith started each of the first eight games, recording 83 tackles, 2.5 sacks, four tackles-for-loss, two interceptions and three pass breakups. He’s the only NFL player with multiple sacks and interceptions.
Smith was 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.
In 2021, 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 in a Week 2 win over the Bengals. 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.
After thriving in 3-4 schemes coordinated by Vic Fangio (2018), Chuck Pagano (2019-20) and Sean Desai (2021), Smith transitioned to a 4-3 system this year under new coach Matt Eberflus and defensive coordinator Alan Williams.
Smith appeared in 69 career games with 67 starts for the Bears, compiling 607 tackles, 47 tackles-for-loss, 16.5 sacks and seven interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown.
Klein has appeared in 136 NFL games with 81 starts over 10 NFL seasons with the Panthers (2013-16), Saints (2017-19), Bills (2020-21) and Ravens (2022). He has registered 454 tackles, 44 tackles-for-loss, 15.5 sacks, eight forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and four interceptions, one of which he returned for a TD.
Klein was selected by the Panthers in the fifth round of the 2013 draft out of Iowa State. This season he signed with the Ravens Oct. 6 and appeared in two games.
Smith’s departure comes five days after the Bears traded veteran defensive end Robert Quinn to the Eagles in exchange for a 2023 fourth-round pick. The Bears now have the following nine picks in next year’s draft:
Round 2 (from Ravens)
Round 4 (from Eagles)
Round 5 (from Ravens)
The Bears traded their 2023 sixth-round pick to the Dolphins last October in exchange for receiver/return specialist Jakeem Grant. They obtained a 2023 sixth-round selection from the Chargers in March as part of a package for outside linebacker Khalil Mack, but they sent that choice to the Chargers in exchange for back-to-back picks in the seventh round of this year’s draft that they spent on safety Elijah Hicks at No. 254 and punter Trenton Gill at No. 255.
The NFL trade deadline is 3 p.m. (CT) Tuesday.