Bears LB Roquan Smith lands on NFL’s All-Paid Team of Tomorrow

Roquan Smith has established himself as a foundational piece on the Chicago Bears defense. And entering a contract year, he’s expected to get paid.

Smith has emerged as one of the NFL’s best linebackers, and he’s coming off another impressive outing in 2021. Last season, Smith totaled 163 tackles (4th in NFL), 12 tackles-for-loss (4th among linebackers), 27 pass tackle stops (1st), had a 3.6 missed tackle percentage (2nd) and a 76.8 passer rating allowed (7th for LBs).

NFL.com’s Anthony Holzman-Escareno built an All-Paid Team of Tomorrow list examining the top player at each position who’s going to land a big contract. He singled out Smith as the top option at linebacker, projecting Smith will get paid north of $ 19 million per year.

Smith’s next up among traditional linebackers in line for new deals. The only player with over 150 tackles and three-plus sacks in 2021, the former top-10 pick is a foundational piece for the future of the Bears ’defense.

Smith and Darius Leonard are the only players with 500-plus tackles, 10-plus sacks, and five-plus interceptions since 2018. Smith, Leonard, Bobby Wagner and Fred Warner are the only players with 500 or more tackles over that span. Leonard and Warner are currently the NFL’s two highest-paid linebackers, while Wagner previously held the title.

Smith, like Lamar Jackson, does not have an agent. His fifth-year option sits at $ 9.7 million for 2022, but Smith should easily get a deal at or near the top of the positional market. The Bears have notably made Khalil Mack (since traded) and Eddie Jackson the highest-paid players at their respective positions in recent seasons. Smith will probably be next.

Smith has already expressed his desire to remain with the Bears, and re-signing Smith is a top priority for general manager Ryan Poles. Poles hopes to get a deal in place before the start of the regular season.

“I don’t know if that’s how we’re going to handle it, but I would like to,” Poles said earlier this offseason. “Obviously the earlier you get to that, the better. But also with a new staff, we may wait a little bit, too. ”

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