NFL 2022: Bears players vote Roquan Smith team captain despite offseason trade request

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Roquan Smith's standing with the Chicago Bears appeared to be in question all offseason after the pass rusher failed to negotiate a new contract, called out the team's new front office and requested a trade.

But after all that, Smith's teammates still voted him one of the four captains for this season, along with Justin Fields, offensive guard Cody Whitehair and defensive lineman Robert Quinn.

It's quite the turnaround for Smith, who asked to be traded in August after he claimed the Bears "refused to negotiate in good faith." Smith still attended training camp, but refused to practice.

"Unfortunately, the new front office regime doesn't value me here," Smith wrote on Aug. 9. "They've refused to negotiate in good faith, every step of this journey has been 'take it or leave it'. The deal sent to me is one that would be bad for myself, and for the entire LB market if I signed it."

He eventually backed off his original demands last month and decided to play the 2022 season on the final year of his deal, though not before calling his negotiations with the Bears "distasteful to say the least."

Despite failed extension talks, Bears general manager Ryan Poles said last month he hopes "to have him in a Chicago Bears uniform." When negotiations ended without a deal and Smith chose to play on his contract, Poles said the two have "shifted gear, and it’s all ball now."

Smith is in the final year of his rookie deal after the Bears took him eighth overall in 2018. He's slated to make $9.7 million on the fifth-year option that the Bears exercised in 2021 despite being one of the best linebackers in the league. Smith is one of two defensive players with at least 500 combined tackles, 14 sacks and five interceptions during that span. The other is Indianapolis Colts linebacker Shaquille Leonard. He also ranks third in combined tackles among all linebackers behind only Bobby Wagner and Leonard.

Roquan Smith will be a team captain in 2021 after a tumultuous offseason. (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
Roquan Smith will be a team captain in 2021 after a tumultuous offseason. (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)