Rookie linebacker Roquan Smith signed his rookie contract with the Chicago Bears on Tuesday, including $18 million guaranteed.
Smith received a signing bonus of $11 million. Like all first-round picks, the deal includes a fifth-year team option.
Smith, drafted eighth overall out of Georgia in April, reported to sign his contract Tuesday morning. Chicago rookies reported on July 16, with veterans arriving three days later. Smith’s holdout lasted 29 days, including 15 missed practices, and he reported with 26 days left before Week 1 of the regular season.
The sticking point in negotiations was language regarding the possible voiding of guarantees in the event that Smith is disciplined by the league, according to multiple reports. Smith’s representatives were known to be seeking insurance that any punishment for on-field conduct — such as a suspension for violating the league’s new helmet rule — would not void any of the linebacker’s guarantees.
ProFootballTalk reports the sides reached a compromise in which Smith’s guarantees would void if he receives a suspension of at least three games for a rules violation that occurs during a play, which would cover any helmet-rule related punishments. The contract also states that a multi-game suspension for any post-play conduct would void Smith’s guarantees, as would a one-game suspension for post-play conduct in which Smith is deemed the aggressor.
All but two of this year’s 32 first-round picks signed their entry-level contracts before their teams’ respective training camps began. New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, the third overall pick, held out briefly before signing his deal and reporting on July 31.
The Bears already played two of their five preseason games and will visit the Denver Broncos this week for joint practices on Wednesday and Thursday before Saturday’s game.
Smith is expected to compete for a starting job immediately, despite his lengthy absence.
“We drafted him for a lot of reasons,” general manager Ryan Pace said earlier in camp. “But one of the reasons was his football makeup and his football intelligence. Which is really off the charts. So he’s a guy who picks things up quickly.”
—Field Level Media