Roquan Smith trades notes for Ravens, Bears: Baltimore acquires All-Pro linebacker twice

The Baltimore Ravens are trading for Chicago Bears All-Pro linebacker Roquan Smith, CBS Sports NFL Insiders Jonathan Jones and Josina Anderson have confirmed. The Bears will receive second- and fifth-round picks in return, as well as linebacker AJ Klein. Smith is the second top defenseman dealt by the Bears last week — just before the NFL’s trade deadline (4 p.m. ET Tuesday) — after Chicago traded rusher Robert Quinn to the Eagles.

Smith, the No. 8 overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft, has recorded 83 tackles, 2.5 sacks and two interceptions this season. In more than four seasons, the Georgian product has only missed four games. The former SEC Defensive Player of the Year has been a point guard since joining the league, amassing more than 600 tackles, 16.5 sacks, one forced fumble, seven interceptions and one touchdown.

The 25-year-old is in the final year of his rookie contract and is expected to become an unrestricted free agent after the season. Spotrac.com predicts an average annual salary of $17.6 million, which would be the second highest among active off-ball linebackers; a high price to pay for the position.

When asked about the status of contract negotiations during preseason, first-year general manager Ryan Poles said the following, via ChicagoBears.com:

“I think he’s a very good football player. I love the kid. I love what he’s done on the pitch which makes me really disappointed with the current situation. I thought we would be in a better situation, to be completely honest with you… That said, we can’t lose sight of this not being a player My job is to build a roster that’s going to sustain success for a long stretch. At the end of the day, we have to do what’s best for the Chicago Bears.”

Baltimore sits atop the AFC North standings with a 5-3 record. Smith joins a group that includes former first-round pick Patrick Queen, as well as Josh Bynes, AJ Klein and Malik Harrison.

With Smith out of the picture, the Bears find themselves with young linebackers Sterling Weatherford and Jack Sanborn, as well as free agent signing Nicholas Morrow.

The Bears sent Quinn to Philadelphia last week in exchange for draft compensation. News of Quinn’s trade broke at the Smith during his own media availability, that caused raw emotion. Pole accumulates provisional capital during his first year of work. Chicago fell to 3-5 on the year with a loss to Dallas over the weekend.

Commercial Grades: Ravens B+, Bears B-

The Ravens certainly have a playmaker on a defense that has turned the tide over the past few weeks. Smith leads the NFL with 83 tackles and still has a knack for finding football, with two interceptions and 2.5 sacks on the year. Not only has Smith recorded double-digit tackles in all but two games this season, he has over 100 tackles in his four NFL seasons and his 246 tackles are fourth in the NFL.

Josh Bynes has been reliable for the Ravens since returning last year, but Baltimore needs a point guard linebacker at MIKE to team up with Patrick Queen. That the Ravens can sign Smith to a long-term deal will validate this trade, but Baltimore is going for it.

As for the Bears, getting a second- and fifth-round pick, with Klein, is part of their rebuilding. Chicago got three draft picks in exchange for Smith and Robert Quinn. They’ll have a first, two seconds, a third, two fourths, two fifths and a seventh in the 2023 draft. The rebuild is on.

–Jeff Kerr

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