Smith did not participate Wednesday when the Bears took the practice field for the first time during training camp at Halas Hall. The two-time second-team All-Pro linebacker plans to hold out until he has a new contract. He did, however, report to camp Tuesday and is participating in meetings and off-the-field activities.
The Bears did not provide a reason why they placed Smith on the PUP list. Under the latest collective bargaining agreement, veteran players under contract who sit out practice during training camp face a $50,000 fine per day. By reporting to camp and going on the PUP list, Smith likely will avoid any fines.
Asked specifically if Smith had an injury, head coach Matt Eberflus said, “Yeah of course, he’s on PUP, so that’s where he is at.”
Eberflus said he won’t comment on injuries. He did confirm that Smith took a physical, as all players do, when he reported to camp Tuesday.
“He’s really in a good spot,” Eberflus said. “We had a great conversation, talking to him about where he is. He’s focused. He’s in meetings, and he’s wired in.”
The team also placed defensive lineman Sam Kamara on the PUP list. Wide receiver Tajae Sharpe, safety Dane Cruikshank and cornerback Michael Joseph were placed on the non-football injury list.
Smith is under contract for one more season. He’s slated to make $9.7 million, according to OverTheCap.com. Compared to some of his peers at the position, he is vastly underpaid. Indianapolis’ Shaquille Leonard and San Francisco’s Fred Warner – who were both drafted in 2018 along with Smith – inked extension that were worth more than $90 million in total and more than $19 million per season. Smith likely is seeking a similar deal, if not the opportunity to surpass those contracts.
Smith’s situation is unique because he appears to be operating without an agent. Smith hasn’t had an agent for several years. Bears general manager Ryan Poles declined to elaborate on how he communicates with Smith and Smith’s camp.
“If a player didn’t have an agent, it would be a different situation than if they did,” Poles said.
Poles addressed the issue first thing Tuesday morning when he met with the media but declined to say much about Smith’s contract situation.
“My feelings for Roquan don’t change at all,” Poles said. “I love the player and the person, and that won’t change. The one thing I will ask everyone here, I know I am going to get a lot of questions, and I get it, I’m just not going to talk about contracts and all that. I want to just make sure we addressed it, though, in terms of my feelings for him, nothing changes.”