Is this decision concerning for Chicago Bears?

Roquan Smith vs Bengals (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Roquan Smith vs Bengals (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

The Roquan Smith situation took an interesting turn over the past few days. Initially, reports were that Smith might be holding out from Chicago Bears training camp as he awaits a contract offer that he feels is more justified.

The initial report had to come with skepticism because the new NFL CBA set up a system of fines that makes it very hard for players to opt-out of reporting to training camps. On the contrary, players have now decided the move is the “hold-in.”

This means the player shows up to training camp, stretches with the team, and does normal activities at the facility but does not participate in team drills or anything involving contact.

This has been seen around the NFL recently, and most notably in T.J. Watt, who essentially missed all of last year’s training camp as he ironed out his deal. The team got it done, and Watt won the Defensive Player of the Year after holding in.

So, the thought was that Smith would hold in, but this also took an interesting turn when Smith was placed on the PUP list. This is the physically unable to perform list. Smith can still attend meetings and work out at the gym, but he cannot step foot on the practice field with this designation.

This is also a designation that a medical professional who failed his physical had to be made. So, while the easy explanation from some is that the team is placing Smith on the PUP to avoid the contract hold-in, this version also involves medical professionals fudging the truth and Smith being excluded from some of the small activities such as stretching and working out to the side, things that T.J. Watt did.

That is the other factor: the Steelers did not fail Watt and place him on PUP last season. They let him stretch and do what he wanted, understanding he was working out a new deal. Interestingly enough, Mike Tomlin admitted that Diontae Johnson did the same thing as Watt this year. He is not on the PUP.

Perhaps Ryan Poles and the Bears want to do things differently than the Steelers. Tomlin had to answer for Johnson and Watt, and with Smith on the PUP, the question remains as to why he is missing time.

Still, that is arguably the only benefit, and a small when you consider they could just acknowledge the situation. Perhaps Smith is coming in with a minor injury and will be taken off of the PUP in a few days.

One last note on the PUP is that you can be taken off at any time, but if you are on the list during the regular season, it will mean missing six games. So, we still have time to learn about what the injury is and how serious it is, but it is something that should not easily be brushed off by saying it is solely contract-related.