The biggest question for the Bears leading into the regular season was whether or not Roquan Smith is worth his 20 million dollar extension asking price. Many fans supported Smith, but because he did not have an agent, he didn’t have much leverage in the situation. So in order to get his money, Smith had to go out and prove he’s worth becoming the highest-paid linebacker of all time. Through seven games, Smith has accumulated an NFL-leading 78 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 4 tackles for loss, 3 pass deflections, and 2 interceptions. Smith is proven to be an extremely versatile linebacker who can cover, rush the passes, and stop the run. In five of his seven games played, Smith has made 10+ tackles and hasn’t had one game under eight tackles. Smith’s consistency and versatility are what make him so valuable but is he valuable enough to change the market for inside linebackers?
Before jumping to the easy conclusion of yes, we must first look at the biggest mistake he’s made late in a game this season. In week 5 vs the Vikings, the Bears were up by one as the Vikings were on their own 40 at 2nd and 5. On a screen pass to Dalvin Cook, Smith had a chance to wrap Cook up for a 2-yard loss to put the Vikings at 3rd and 7 but he missed the tackle and Cook ran for the first down. This could’ve given the Bears an opportunity to stop the Vikings and forced them to punt and the Bears could’ve put the game away. There was another case of this though not as impactful the week prior against the Giants when he couldn’t bring Saquon Barkley down.
These are the mistakes that Smith does have to clean up if he expects to get paid his asking price. As long as he does avoid the mistakes then he is 100% worth what he wants as he would not be easy to replace. But if he has more cases of missing those tackles this season then he could find himself having to take a pay cut or leaving the Bears. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen and Smith can continue to be perfect like he has been most of the time this season and Ryan Poles can lock him down for years to come.