“My career will not be in vain.”
Roquan Smith thankful for Bears trade: ‘My career won’t be in vain’ originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
After Sunday’s 37-3 blowout over the Seattle Seahawks to the Baltimore Ravens, Roquan Smith looked back with Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer on his trade from Chicago.
Just over a year after the incident, how does Smith feel about it now?
“Man, it’s crazy to think about when I first got traded,” Smith told Brier. “It was bittersweet for me, just knowing Chicago and rightly so. But if I had stayed there, honestly, I wouldn’t have been able to compete for a title anytime soon. And then when I came here, it took me a while, like a few Weeks, to really realize how stacked this team is, as well as how many good people there are on this team, and how they bring in really good people.
“And when I think about it from the perspective of having the opportunity to compete year after year with the talent that we have. Man, it makes me so happy, just knowing that my career is not going to be in vain, in the sense of playing somewhere where I’m not really competing for a title.”
Oh. Smith didn’t back down.
Smith and the Bears faced a major falling out in the summer of 2022. Smith was hoping to receive an extension from his original team, which drafted him with the No. 8 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
But after several negotiations — without an agent — between the Bears, Smith requested a trade. The Bears “did not negotiate in good faith,” he said in a statement. He claimed that the deal the Bears sent him would be a bad deal to sign for himself and the NFL linebacker market as a whole.
Ian Rapoport later reported that the Bears’ offer to Smith included backlog money and de-escalation factors. The offer didn’t sit well with a player who has emulated and led the Bears’ defense since his arrival. The same linebacker who was worthy enough to carry the torch of great Chicago players.
In return, the Bears traded Smith to the Ravens at the 2022 NFL trade deadline. They received future draft capital in return. Smith was ruined by the trade.
“I didn’t plan (to trade), but you know, life happens sometimes and you get traded,” Smith said after his first practice in Baltimore. “I was shocked at first. But I’m excited to be here. There’s a good group of players competing for the title, and that’s what I’m in the game to play for – playing for the title.”
It took time for Smith to adjust to playing for a new team. All he knew during his young career was to be a Chicago Bear—the place where linebackers are put on a pedestal. Or, it’s supposed to be, at least.
But quickly, Smith got used to his new environment. In fact, he appreciates his new team even more.
“Honestly, man, being a Crow means the world to me,” Smith says. “And how they came and got me when I was in Chicago and all the love they showed me throughout my time here, I just imagine it’s going to grow even bigger. So when I think about it from that perspective, I’m proud that I played until the whistle, and I played every ball as hard as I could.” But like just being here, there’s something that makes you want to do more, with all the legends that came before me, like Ed (Reed), Ray (Lewis), Bart (Scott)…
This season Smith is led by the best defense in the league, which has allowed an incredible 13.8 points per game this season. And Smith? he is fine.
Smith has the fourth-most tackles in the NFL this season, with 87 through nine weeks. His teammate, Patrick Quinn, also has 75 tackles—15th in the NFL.
It’s safe to say that initially, Smith was upset about being traded from the Bears. But now he’s thriving better than he was with the Bears. He’s definitely happier too.
“When I think about it from that perspective, it makes me proud to know that I’m playing behind this historic tradition. And the guys that were way before me, man. How they set the standard for being a Raven. I think the lights are being turned off on the defensive side of the ball…and no “It gives the attack time to breathe. Choke them. And when they come to breathe, you take them right down. I feel like this is what being a Raven is all about.”
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