After moving past contentious contract negotiation, Ryan Poles remains confident in Bears' relationship with Roquan Smith


LAKE FOREST, Ill. (670 The Score) -- With a contentious contract negotiation behind them, Bears general manager Ryan Poles on Thursday credited star linebacker Roquan Smith's attitude while expressing hope that the sides can repair their relationship and have a long-term partnership.

At Smith's request, Poles and the Bears have moved on from negotiations on a long-term deal with Smith, who has agreed to play out this final season of his contract before the sides re-evaluate their future together.

"We’ve shifted gear, and it’s all ball now,” Poles said.

“He doesn’t get enough credit for being able to change gears like that and going out and just playing football and doing it the right way. I’m proud of him for handling that way. And he’s out there and we’re better because of that.”

The 25-year-old Smith conducted a contract hold-in at the start of training camp in late July, joining the Bears during team meetings and workouts but skipping practice. Smith elected to represent himself during contract negotiations with the team. He ended the hold-in on Aug. 20, when he announced his intention to halt discussions with the team on a new deal.

Smith has since stressed he isn't focusing on his contract future as the start of the regular season nears.

“It’s already in the back of my mind,” Smith said.

Negotiations between Smith and the Bears took a turn on Aug. 9, when he publicly requested a trade in a statement on social media. As part of a pointed statement, Smith wrote that Poles and the Bears’ new regime “refused to negotiate in good faith." Later that day, Poles responded by saying Chicago had no intention of trading Smith.

The No. 8 overall pick in 2018, Smith is due $9.735 million in fully guaranteed salary in 2022 as part of the fifth-year option on his contract. Smith has played 61 games for the Bears, recording 524 tackles, 43 tackles for a loss, 14 sacks and five interceptions. He's set to become an unrestricted free agent after this season.

Poles is confident he and Smith can salvage their relationship.

“It's human nature,” Poles said. “When things happen and two sides don't agree on something, it's going to take a little time to do that. I got a lot of faith that that's going to happen, and I'm excited for him.

“First of all, he's a good player. That's never changed. And he's a good dude. I have faith that he's going to have a good year and we'll work on our relationship and all that.

“We've all been there, right? You have disagreements and you have to come back together and be teammates. That's what I expect.”

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.

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