Did the Chicago Bears make a mistake by trading Roquan Smith?

Chicago Bears - Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Bears - Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports /

The Chicago Bears’ defense has struggled in the back half of the 2022 season. Early on, it looked promising. I am on record to believe this defense would finish as a top-10 defense in DVOA and they are not even close. I put too much faith in the fact that Matt Eberflus found success with many no-name players in Indianapolis. The difference seems to be key stars at specific positions that the Chicago Bears roster just doesn’t have yet. It doesn’t help that they traded away Roquan Smith in the process.

Many Chicago Bears fans do not want to admit that Roquan Smith is a great player now that he’s no longer with Chicago. The thing is, Smith is a great player and I still view him as a top-five inside linebacker in the NFL. The problem is that inside linebackers do not hold as much value as other positions on the defensive side of the ball. Corners and edge rushers for example are more coveted and demand more money.

Did the Chicago Bears make a mistake trading away Roquan Smith?

A recent tweet came out that puts Roquan Smith in a bright light for the Baltimore Ravens since joining their team. I am not going to sit here and try and tell you that Roquan Smith hasn’t made a positive impact since becoming a Raven. He is a great player and helps his teammates play at a higher level as well. Patrick Queen for example has looked much better since Roquan Smith has lined up next to him.

Here’s the recent tweet with changes in key rankings on defense for the Ravens since the Roquan Smith trade:

Now, stats are fun, but it’s important to put them in perspective. Context always matters, yet the scoreboard watchers in the sports world don’t fully understand how this works.

If we look at the Ravens’ schedule, prior to the Roquan Smith trade, they faced the Dolphins, Bills and Bengals. They also faced a New York Giants team that was playing very well at the time. As of now, the Dolphins are ninth in the NFL in scoring — they were higher at the time they played the Ravens. The Bills are fourth and the Bengals are sixth. If we look at yards gained, the Bills are second, the Dolphins are fifth and the Bengals are sixth.

Now, let’s look at the teams the Ravens have faced since the trade.

  • Saints – Points Scored: 23rd / Yards Gained: 18th
  • Panthers – Points Scored: 19th / Yards Gained: 30th
  • Jaguars – Points Scored: 11th / Yards Gained: 7th
  • Broncos – Points Scored: 32nd / Yards Gained: 25th
  • Steelers – Points Scored: 29th / Yards Gained: 23rd
  • Browns – Points Scored: 14th / Yards Gained: 10th
  • Falcons – Points Scored: 17th / Yards Gained: 27th

The Jaguars are the best offense of that group. In fact, only the Jaguars and Browns are in the top half of the league in scoring and yards. The Panthers have seen a jump in offensive production and were not as good of a team when they faced Baltimore back in November.

As for the Chicago Bears making a mistake trading Roquan Smith, I’d say no. The Chicago Bears were not in a position to deal with his off-the-field drama while trying to rebuild from the ground up. Had he been able to reach an agreement with Ryan Poles in the offseason, he’d still be in Chicago. I truly believe that. However, after how everything was handled, the chances of him agreeing to terms in the offseason were slim. Franchise tagging him could have led to even more drama. Moving on from him was the only smart decision, especially for an off-the-ball linebacker.

Not to mention the emergence of Jack Sanborn making the trade look less foolish.