NFL Threatens to Punish Teams for Tampering Following Forbidden Contact with Bears’ Roquan Smith

by Patrick Norton

Roquan Smith’s hold-in following his inability to agree to terms on a new contract with the Chicago Bears got a whole lot tricker over the weekend. Following the linebacker’s trade request to build leverage, rival executives called Chicago’s new front office. If connected, Ryan Poles expressed his deep disinterest in trading the fifth-year veteran.

The Bears also made an effort to highlight the illegal behavior of other teams’ possible attempts to personally contact Smith. But the situation is a sloppy mess with Smith representing himself without official representation from a league-vetted agent.

The NFL sent a league-wide memo that a non-NFLPA-certified agent contacted clubs to gauge interest on behalf of the 2018 first-rounder. Saint Omni – identified in the memo – called teams “indicating that he is representing Roquan Smith, who is under contract to the Chicago Bears.”

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero broke the news. He followed up with a copy of parts of the memo that highlight the league’s policies on trade discussions. “Under no circumstances should a prospective club rely upon any written or oral representation by a player or his agent that he has received permission to enter into discussions for a trade or contract,” the rulebook clearly states.

While the Bears fight the Roquan Smith fire at home, the tampering issue is reminiscent of the Miami Dolphins’ situation. Earlier in the offseason, the league issued a fine and suspension to team owner Stephen Ross for tampering.

Ross tried to lure Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady and Saints head coach Sean Payton to Miami. Furthermore, the move cost Miami a first-round pick in 2023.

What’s Ahead for Smith and the Bears?

While Omni’s relationship to Smith appears unknown, if the linebacker employed the fake agent, it comes across as a pure leverage play. However, if Smith is genuinely looking for teams to trade for the young stud, it shouldn’t require much effort.

But just because the list of teams interested in a 25-year-old middle linebacker requires an old-time scroll doesn’t mean the Bears are any more willing to deal him. Chicago removed Smith from the PUP list, making the linebacker subject to fines.

However, it’s unknown if the team is actually enacting a punishment. Meanwhile, the linebacker shows up to practice each day, but does not participate. Instead, Smith keeps loose with the injured players off to the side.

But ESPN’s Courtney Cronin suggested that Smith finally missed an entire session on Monday. That marks the first complete absence in the hold-in. It could represent a power play from Smith, but it could also mean he’s busy negotiating a deal inside Halas Hall.

The Bears are much better with their best defensive player. But as the organization enters a full-scale rebuild, maybe trading the impactful Roquan Smith means better draft position in 2023. Maybe instead of paying Smith, the team could opt to resod the abysmal grass surface at Soldier Field with the money saved.