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So Roquan Smith finally practiced in Lake Forest over the weekend, ending a soap opera that lasted almost two weeks after the linebacker demanded a trade over a contract dispute.
Saying he planned to “bet on myself,” Smith said he’ll play out the final year of his deal with the Bears in hopes his play will attract the type of big money he’s looking for.
In reality, Smith’s decision to return likely means a delay of the continuing contract drama he’s had with the Bears ever since holding out in his rookie season.
Once this season is complete, the Bears will have the option of placing the franchise tag on Smith. The number projects to be $18.921 million for linebackers and Smith admitted that was “a nice number” during Saturday’s media session.
Still, it’s rare any NFL player takes the tag without a fight and I assume Smith won’t either. (Can you blame them in a sport where each play might be their last?)
There is still reason to hope the two sides will finally be able to come to a long-term agreement, though even that is not a guarantee of peace.
You might remember that the Bears placed the franchise tag on Lance Briggs following the Super Bowl XLI season, prompting a less-than-friendly response from the linebacker.
“I am now prepared to sit out the year if the Bears don’t trade me or release me,” Briggs said. “I’ve played my last snap for them. I’ll never play another down for Chicago again.”
That isn’t what happened, of course. Briggs earned $7.2 million in 2007 under the tag, then signed a six-year deal worth $36 million the following spring.
All’s well that ends well?
Not quite. Briggs was vocal about wanting a raise or trade in 2011 as he entered the fourth year of that deal, but neither wish was granted given the contract he signed.
No one’s sure how this will all play out with Smith.
- Will he sign an agent to do what he’s found to the “distasteful” work of negotiation?
- Will he find that the market for his services isn’t as robust as he thought?
- How much money is Ryan Poles willing to commit to a non-prime position?
We’ll eventually find out, but thankfully there’s now a break first.
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The Week Ahead
- The Sky are in Brooklyn for a decisive Game 3 against the New York Liberty on Tuesday night. Which Sky team made the trip? They melted in the waning moments of Game 1, before rebounding to record the biggest margin of victory in a WNBA playoff game with a 100-62 win on Saturday.
- The White Sox were rained out on Sunday and remain 2 1/2 games behind Cleveland. They have a travel-filled week ahead of them. They’re in Kansas City for a makeup game this afternoon and will head to Baltimore for three games against the surprising O’s before returning to the South Side to face the D-Backs over the weekend.
- Albert Pujols’ late push for 700 home runs comes to Wrigley tonight. The retiring Cubs foil has 692 dingers to his name — 57 of which have come against the Cubs.
- The Bears preseason comes to an end with a Saturday night date in Cleveland.
- The Fire, who have been outscored 6-1 in their previous two matches, welcome Montreal to Soldier Field on Saturday.
- The Red Stars are in Louisville on Saturday, looking to forget this weekend’s 4-0 loss to a bad North Carolina side.