Bears GM mum on Roquan Smith's contract status

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With Sam Darnold inking his rookie deal, just one 2018 draftee remains unsigned, Chicago Bears linebacker Roquan Smith.

Whereas Darnold missed less than a handful of Jets practices, Smith has already missed nine training camp sessions for the Bears -- with Chicago playing in the Hall of Fame Game on Thursday, Aug. 2, the Bears began camp early.

Speaking on the impasse with Smith for the first time since the Bears opened camp, general manager Ryan Pace was mostly muted on the subject.

"That's obviously a big topic right now," Pace told WMVP-AM 1000 on Monday, via the Chicago Tribune. "And for us, these are important and critical reps that are going on right now. But to get into the nitty gritty details isn't something we feel we should do publicly. That's behind the scenes. We have a lot of respect for him obviously and a lot of respect for his agents. And it's a matter of just working through that."

Pace repeatedly declined to get into details about the holdup on Smith's contract, why sides can't find common ground on the few negotiable issues, or elaborate on the team's stance.

One issue holding up Smith getting to camp is concern about the new helmet rule playing a factor in increasing the likelihood the linebacker could be suspended, thus allowing the guarantees in his contract to be wiped away.

"We're all working through that," Pace said. "This is a little bit new for all of us."

NFL Network's Mike Garafolo noted during Monday's edition of Inside Training Camp Live that the Bears didn't negate Danny Trevathan's guarantees after his suspension for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Davante Adams last season. Still, for the player's agent, getting those assurances in writing is always a prudent move.

As for Smith's prolonged absence -- he'll assuredly miss Thursday's HOF Game, and might not even make the Bears' second preseason game even if he signs soon -- Pace said he's not worried about the missed time hurting the linebacker's chances of winning a starting gig.

"We drafted him for a lot of reasons," Pace said. "But one of the reasons was his football makeup and his football intelligence. Which is really off the charts. So he's a guy who picks things up quickly."

Bears corner Prince Amukamara, who himself was the longest contract holdout when drafted in 2011 by the New York Giants, said he's spoken with Smith recently and knows the linebacker will be ready whenever he signs his deal.

"I spoke to Roquan yesterday and he is working his butt off," Amukamara said. "He is training hard. I told him, 'Hey, I was in the same position. You have to trust the process and trust the agent you are with.' I am sure both sides are close and both sides want to get something done. Hopefully, it happens soon.

"From what everyone saw at OTAs, he has a motor. He definitely is a pro. I am not saying he has it figured out but he is definitely disciplined so I am sure he is taking care of business."

Now the team and Smith's agent need to take care of the contract business and get the rookie to camp before the tents fold in Bourbonnais, Illinois.

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