Pro Football Focus’ Brad Spielberger explores 10 players who are trade candidates before Week 1 kicks off, what it might take to acquire them, and teams that fit as plausible landing spots
As you might expect, Chicago Bears linebacker Roquan Smith *IS* on the list.
But what you might not see coming is the projected market value for the Bears’ star linebacker.
Projected Value in a Roquan Smith Trade
That’s because Spielberger’s projects Smith’s trade value to be a 2023 second-round pick oath 2024 fifth-round selection.
Oof! Firstly, this forecasted return would feel awfully light if that’s how it went down. Especially when NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport was suggesting that trading Smith could net the Bears a first-round pick in a trade that looked something like the non-QB deals that sent cornerback Jalen Ramsey from the Jaguars to the Rams or left tackle Laremy Tunsil from the Dolphins to the Texans. Then again, Rapoport’s ESPN counterpart Adam Schefter didn’t seem as optimistic, openly questioning if there was a team willing to trade for a linebacker and pay him more than $20 million. We covered those points of view (and more) here.
Secondly, this isn’t the first bit of chatter hinting at a Smith trade not netting the Bears a first-round pick. Jeff Hughes of Da Bears Blog threw this out on Twitter recently:
Sigh. This wasn’t totally unexpected. Off-ball linebackers who aren’t racking up pressures, sacks, and turnovers are being treated as if they are to defense what running backs are to offense. The elite of the elite get paid, while the rest try to find their niche. Smith’s desire to be the highest-paid player at the position (which would come with an AAV north of $20M) puts a dent in the short-term value of Smith making $9.735M on the fifth-year option of his rookie deal.
Between the perspectives of Spielberger and Hughes, a wet blanket is thrown on our dreams of the Bears turning what has been an icky situation with Smith into a trade return of a first-round pick that everyone can rally around. Not that anyone would be throwing a party if the Bears were to trade Smith. But there isn’t a fanbase on this earth that dreams bigger than Bears fans when their team has a first-round pick.
The bad news is that it isn’t in the cards right now. But the good news is that there is a marketplace of teams that could have an interest in Smith. And if you can find a way to pit those teams against each other in a hypothetical race to acquire Roquan, then maybe there is a path to slide into a first-round pick.
Roquan Smith’s Potential Suitors
Spielberger lists the following teams as potential fits:
- Arizona Cardinals
- Houston Texans
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- Washington Commanders
Not only is this an interesting collection of teams, that there is only one notable crossover name between Spielberger’s list and the one from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler we were discussing last week piques my interest. In theory, we’d have a total of 13 teams as possible trade fits if we were to combine Spielberger’s list with what Fowler put out. And all of a sudden, the trade market for Smith becomes much more interesting.
In short, if things became untenable to the point where the Bears were truly exploring trading Smith, then pitting these teams against each other would be the easiest way to drive up trade value. To be clear, it wouldn’t be easy. This isn’t some sort of player auction situation. But in order to make a trade, you need two interested parties. And in order to maximize value in a return, it would make sense for a team to get others looking like they want to get in the mix, too.
In The End…
With two more NFL roster cutdown dates coming on Aug. 23 and 30, I think we’ll continue seeing teams work the margins in fortifying their rosters. But I also believe we could see general managers make trades as they go about tightening up their respective squads. We saw it as recently as the Eagles-Seahawks trade we made note of in Tuesday’s Bullets. And we’ve seen it in the past with deals such as the ones that sent Adam Shaheen and Anthony Miller packing.
But we could also see a big whopper of a deal. Because after that offseason of player movement, I’m preparing myself to expect the unexpected. I am particularly preparing myself for a deal that might not be all that popular with Bears fans.
And as long as Smith doesn’t have an extension to stick around Chicago, I’ll be on high alert.