On Monday, the Chicago Bears shocked the NFL world by trading star linebacker Roquan Smith to the Baltimore Ravens. In exchange, the Bears received linebacker A.J. Klein, along with second and fifth-round picks in the 2023 NFL draft. Though the move was divisive among Bears fans, one thing is certain: The team has fully embraced a rebuild, concentrating resources to make a splash in the upcoming offseason.
At first glance, trading a two-time All-Pro for a few draft picks does not seem like fair value. However, the Ravens are essentially renting Smith for nine games before either giving in to his massive contract demands or letting him walk in free agency. Thus, it was expected that any team trading for Smith would not be willing to part with a first-round draft selection, no matter how talented he may be. The trade indicates that the Bears and Smith could not reach an agreement on a new contract. General manager Ryan Poles has seemed reluctant to hand Smith the $20 million/year contract that the linebacker has reportedly demanded. Receiving multiple draft picks and a replacement-level player for someone who was likely going to walk this offseason is, all things considered, a solid move.
In addition to the compensation the Bears received from the Ravens, the move ensures that the team will enter the upcoming offseason with well over $100 million in cap space, by far the most in the league. This, along with nine 2023 draft picks, gives the Bears all the resources necessary to make significant upgrades to the current roster. At the end of the day, it all comes down to this offseason. The pressure is on Ryan Poles and the front office to make the most of the upcoming offseason, and how the Bears improve next season will ultimately determine whether or not the team’s recent moves — especially the Roquan Smith trade — were the right decision.