Roquan Smith has shown no signs of backing down from his ongoing contract dispute with the Chicago Bears. The Bears seem to be moving on with their business for 2018 without him. The defense racked up eight sacks and played the run well in the Hall of Fame game. This without projected starters Danny Trevathan and Nick Kwiatkoski in uniform. Clearly, neither side feels the need to press the issue, and so the wait continues.
While nobody doubts Smith should end up being a really good player in the NFL, the hopes of him being the next Bears great have begun to fade. Would a guy who willingly brings his team unwanted distraction ever do something like that? They talk about Smith being a model leader and the like but he’s not setting the best example in that regard.
Fans believe he’s got the skill set to be the next great inside/middle linebacker in Chicago. The man who finally assumes the mantle for Brian Urlacher who just entered the Hall of Fame. However, the Bears legend didn’t sound sympathetic to the rookie’s issue when asked about it before his induction at the Hall of Fame press conference.
“I can’t speak for other people, but I told my agent, ‘I will not miss camp. I’ll be in there. Even if we sign the day before, I will not miss camp at all. I think it’s detrimental to me learning the defense and [helping] my teammates. We made sure we got it done in time.”
Roquan Smith smells less of Urlacher and more of Cornelius Bennett
The fact is go back through the history books searching for holdouts like this. It’s extremely rare for future NFL legends to do something like this. Men who transcended the game not just with their physical skill but their ability to inspire. They did and said all the right things. Then there are those players who occupy the “really good.” Category they were phenomenal athletes who had great careers, but they aren’t always remembered.
A perfect example to compare Smith with is Cornelius Bennett. It’s rather fitting. He was a hotshot linebacker coming out of the SEC in Alabama. He was a top 10 pick and he held out the moment he was given the opportunity. Bennett wanted more money. The Indianapolis Colts wouldn’t give it to him. So the holdout lasted 102 days.
So how did it finally get resolved? The Colts used him as a trade chip to help acquire star running back Eric Dickerson. Bennett went to Buffalo in the deal where he went to five Pro Bowls and helped the Bills reach four straight Super Bowls.
Some could argue he was in the same league as Urlacher, yet one is a first ballot Hall of Famer and the other is often forgotten by casual fans. Why?
Bennett learned the hard way that me-first guys don’t always prosper
The thing about Urlacher was he never gave himself credit for anything. He never put the attention on himself. He always passed that on to his teammates. It’s that humble attitude people loved about him. Bennett, while not a bad teammate, proved from the moment he entered the league that he was a selfish player. His primary focus was own well-being before the team. The karma soon came back and bit him.
Despite having a great career, he has no Hall of Fame bust and is never mentioned among the best ever at his position. Now Smith isn’t quite there yet. He’s got a chance to end this dispute before it goes too far, but it’s becoming harder by the day to accept him as a future leader of this Bears team. Leaders don’t do things like this. They find a way to resolve such problems quietly and keep the attention off themselves.
He’ll still likely be a good player in Chicago, but will he be another Urlacher or Singletary? That dream is fading away.