Poles told Roquan he planned to build around him


Roquan Smith didn't see it coming. 

The once Bears All-Pro linebacker had only heard positive chatter from general manager Ryan Poles about his status, despite thinking the worst. 

“I thought Poles would ship me out, but he told me numerous times, ‘I don’t plan to trade you at all,'” Smith told The Athletic. “So I was like, ‘I guess I won’t be going anywhere.’ He said we’d talk at the end of the season.”

Unfortunately for Smith, and Bears fans everywhere, it didn't last until the end of the season. 

The Bears shipped him to the Baltimore Ravens for a second- and fifth-round pick just before the buzzer sounded on the NFL trade deadline.

RELATED: Roquan Smith: 'I didn't plan to get traded'

Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta called Poles to inquire about Smith as the deadline approached. But, after the Bears defeated the Patriots, 33-14, Poles wasn't sure where he wanted to take the roster with a 3-4 record, according to the story. 

It wasn't until the Bears were demolished by the Cowboys the following week, 49-29, that Poles was ready to give up on Smith – who had requested a trade in the summer amid negotiations he detailed were "not in good faith."

The Bears, ready to tear down the roster completely at this point, paid $4.8 million of Smith's contract so the Ravens could inhale him. 

Outside the failed contract negotiations – in which the Bears reportedly offered him a backloaded deal far from the value of other top linebackers in the league – head coach Matt Eberflus explained his desire for a turnover-centric linebacker in his defense. 

In 4.5 seasons with the Bears, Smith had seven interceptions and one forced fumble – far off from other top-tier linebackers in the league, like Eberflus had with Shaquille Leonard. Thus, the Bears were able to swallow the pill of not retaining the defensive franchise cornerstone. 

MORE: How Bears evaluation of Roquan Smith factored into trade

The journey from Chicago to Baltimore was a rocky, misguided, messy breakup for Smith and the Bears. But, he's garnering success with the Ravens, who have the league's eighth-best defense and aspirations of a deep playoff run. 

Yet, he'll never forget his fallout with the Bears. 

“I took him [Poles] at his word,” Smith says. “But life happens.”

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