After more than a month of friction with Bears linebacker Roquan Smith, general manager Ryan Poles said Thursday he still believes the relationship can be repaired and a long-term contract is possible.
“First of all, he’s a good player — that’s never changed,” Poles said. “And he’s a good dude. I have faith that he’s gonna have a good year, and we’ll work on our relationship and all that.
“It’s not even a bad thing, either. We’ve all been there, right? You have disagreements and you have to come back together and be teammates. That’s what I expect.”
Negotiations deteriorated to the point that Smith wouldn’t practice and eventually requested a trade. The Bears declined to deal him, and Smith returned to work Aug. 20 after missing 15 practices.
In a letter explaining his trade request, Smith ripped Poles for trying take advantage of him with “take-it-or-leave-it” offers and not negotiating “in good faith.” He said the Poles-led front office “doesn’t value me.”
“It’s human nature,” Poles said. “When things happen and two sides don’t agree on something, it’s gonna take a little time to do that. I’ve got a lot of faith that that’s going to happen, and I’m excited for it.”
Smith reiterated Wednesday he would not entertain any contract offers from the Bears at this point.
Smith is entering the final season of his rookie contract and will play for $9.7 million, then become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. The Bears could keep him by using the franchise tag each of the next two seasons.