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More like Noquan, amirite?
I wonder how much Ryan Poles enjoyed calling Roquan's agent to tell him the news?
Bears Chairman of the Board and Mommy’s Best Boy George McCaskey might not want anybody to use the term “rebuild” when discussing the current state of his franchise, but his general manager, Ryan Poles certainly knows that it means.
Trading a 32-year-old defensive end with a $15 million salary is one thing. Even the fans who think the Bears should be trying to squeeze every win out of this season could see the logic in that.
But when you turn around and trade the best player on your defense and probably the second-best1 player on your team, when he’s still on his rookie deal and is only 25 years old is really, truly something else.
But that’s what Poles has done. Last week he shipped Big Play Bob Quinn to the Eagles for a fourth round draft pick, and on Halloween he called up Roquan Smith’s agent and told him he was trading Roquan to the Ravens for a second and fifth rounder.
The reasoning is pretty simple, and even if we can understand it and even agree with hit, we don’t have to like it.
The Bears do not have enough good players. Trading one of the few good ones they have is counterintuitive, right? Sure, you add two draft picks and some more salary cap room (though how fucking much can you even use in one offseason?) but you open up another hole that you have to fill.
The Bears didn’t trade Roquan because he’s not good, or that he’s not a fit in their defense. They traded him because he wants $20 million a year, and he doesn’t play a position that it’s smart to devote $20 million to.
Poles spent the summer and all of training camp trying to sign Roquan, and the two sides never got close. It didn’t help things that Roquan insists on being his own agent, which means there’s no third party to try to explain just how much Roquan should be able to realistically squeeze out of a team. I mean, sure you can consult noted big brains like Saint Omni all you want, but I’m not sure that actually helps
As the preseason wore down Roquan and Poles realized there wasn’t going to be a deal this year, so Roquan just went back to work and he played really well. The Bears could have franchised him next season and I think most of us figured that’s what was going to happen. But that’s just kind of an expensive way of kicking the can down the road.
Instead, Poles put a relatively high price tag on him and sat on a lawn chair in his driveway until somebody showed up willing to pay it. We should have known something was brewing when weasely little NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport (who Roquan talks to more than his mom) said the other day that the Bears might listen on players like Roquan and David Montgomery and that the Ravens would be a potential fit for Roquan.
It’s a curious move for the Ravens who now inherit the same dilemma the Bears just traded to avoid. They have to try to re-sign Roquan (you don’t trade a second and a fifth for a rental) and that money is going to cut into what they can spend to get Lamar Jackson at least one decent wide receiver. Oh, and Lamar’s a free agent and Lamar is his own agent, just like Roquan. How fun.
Does this make the Bears better? No. Of course not. Certainly not now. Maybe not ever.
It’s not a sure thing that they can use the extra cash and picks and find anybody nearly as good as Roquan to fill his old spot. But it does mean they’re going to be much worse the rest of this season. And, as much as it sucks for us, it behooves the Bears to lose many more games this year. You want to rebuild as quickly as possible and having a top ten pick makes that easier. While we were enjoying the Bears kicking the Patriots’ asses the other night, Poles was watching George happily shaking his pom poms thinking, “This shit needs to end.”
What does this mean for the Bears the rest of the way? Well, the defense tries hard but even with Roquan they were pretty bad against the run. He basically was their only chance on any play to actually tackle a running back. Now, we get to watch Jack Sanborn give it a shot.
How athletic is Jack Sanborn? If you saw him running by your house at 8 a.m. he wouldn’t leave your sight until noon.
This trade makes sense only if:
Your plan is to spend a lot of money and/or draft picks to vastly upgrade your wide receivers and offensive line.
You are convinced that Justin Fields is your franchise QB and you know that in just two years you are going to have to back up the truck to pay him.
Will the Bears keep going and trade Montgomery? You’d only keep him if your goal is to pay tough, slow running backs. but I’m not sure there’s much of (or even any) market for him.
It sucks as a fan to lose a fun guy like Roquan. It doesn’t mean the trade doesn’t make sense. But it doesn’t make the trade not suck.
Hey, Substack had some issues on Monday and not everybody got the newsletter and it was free for all. So if you missed it, here you go:
Behind Cairo Santos and Justin Fields.