Chicago Bears may want to extend Roquan Smith sooner than later

Chicago Bears -Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Bears -Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports /

The Chicago Bears recently picked up the fifth-year option Roquan Smith, which locks him onto the 2022 roster. However, he is not signed beyond 2022, and while that may seem a while away, it may be in the Bears’ best interest to extend him beyond 2022 sooner than later.

The biggest reason that the Bears may want to extend Smith sooner than later is the ripple effect of players around him. When looking at the highest-paid players at Smith’s position, we see Bobby Wagner and CJ Mosley. However, Wagner is 31, and Mosley is 29. Smith is currently 24, so it is hard to compare numbers.

Myles Jack is 26 and is the only linebacker who signed a recent extension at a similar age. However, the big paydays are coming.

Chicago Bears must sign Roquan Smith before the price gets higher

Smith just so happened to come out during one of the better runs of linebackers in recent history. Players drafted in the same draft as Smith include Tremaine Edmunds, Darius Leonard, and Fred Warner. In the year behind them comes Devin White and Devin Bush.

The reality is that all five of those names are likely to command more on the open market than Myles Jack, or even the veteran Wagner just signed for.

What happens is the ripple effect. First, one of these players signs and is the highest-paid at his position, topping Wagner. Then, three weeks later the next linebacker adds a few dollars, maybe an incentive here or there, and boom they sign a similar, but slightly more lucrative deal. Then the next linebacker does the same and so on.

The 49ers have already started to negotiate with Fred Warner because his contract does not come with a fifth-year option like the first-round pick Smith. The same will be said with Leonard. Both are likely to set a bar that Smith would then be expected to eclipse.

The Chicago Bears could be wise to extend Roquan Smith a year early. If the Bears beat the Colts and 49ers to extending their linebacker they set the bar that the others must now beat, and not the other way.

Beyond that, giving Smith upfront money on an extension gives the Bears an ability to smooth over their cap number in 2021, knowing that the cap will increase in 2022 and beyond.

The Bears saw this first hand when they got out ahead of the safety market and extended Eddie Jackson. Like Warner, he did not have a fifth-year option. Still, when Jackson signed he was the highest-paid safety.

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Since then, Budda Baker and Justin Simmons have topped Jackson, who is no longer the highest-paid.

It is not high on fans’ priority list, but it may do the Bears well to extend Roquan Smith a year early, knowing that if they do not, they are going to pay him more.