Roquan Smith finally signed his rookie contract four weeks after his fellow first-year players reported to Chicago Bears training camp. Speaking with the media for the first time on Tuesday, the linebacker shed little light on the details of his contract dispute but said he doesn't regret the decision to miss training camp.
"No, that's just the business side of things," Smith said, via the Chicago Tribune. "It is what it is. And I'm just happy to be here now."
Smith's lengthy absence finally ended on Monday when the Bears compromised on voiding guarantees. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Smith's guarantees would not void if he's suspended for on-field actions during a play (such as an egregious lowering-the-helmet hit) for one to two games, or if he's suspended for one to two games multiple times for such actions. If Smith is suspended for a chunk of three or more tilts for in-play action, however, the Bears could then void his guarantee. For acts after a play, Smith's guarantees could void if he's suspended two or more games for his actions or one game while deemed the aggressor.
Now that the contract minutia is done, Smith and the Bears -- and every non-lawyer on the planet -- are ready to move on. The rookie isn't worried that the time missed might set him back.
"I have confidence in the coaches and the athletic training staff and myself," Smith said. "We'll take the proper steps for me to come back."
Added coach Matt Nagy:
"It was really simple. Why harp on what just happened? Let's go. You're here, our team's here, that's all that matters. Put it to the side and let's go play football."
Smith might not be concerned that his missed time will hurt him physically -- though it's notable that the last rookie with a lengthy holdout, Joey Bosa, dealt with a hamstring issue early in his return -- it's the mental aspect he'll have to catch up on in a hurry.
The Bears drafted the sideline-to-sideline menace to slide right into the middle of Vic Fangio's defense. Whether missing all of training camp will hinder him from earning a starting gig to open the season is something to track the rest of the preseason.
"From the time we got to know Roquan in OTAs, we understand he's a very driven individual, both on and off the field, and I know he's going to do everything he possibly can to catch up," Nagy said. "Now he's got to do it, so to be able to get out here in Denver and have some good practices, it's a great time for him. It's good for him to get back in shape and take some hits."