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A potential Defensive Player of the Year candidate in the NFC is requesting a trade

Could Roquan Smith be headed to the NFC West?

Los Angeles Rams v Chicago Bears Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

If you need any evidence this year that the Pro Bowl is a sham, just mention that Roquan Smith has never made it to that roster through four years in the league. Perhaps that’s what the Chicago Bears are bringing up in their negotiations with the two-time second team All-Pro linebacker on a new contract extension. And maybe that’s why Smith released a statement on Tuesday that he wants to be traded to a team that “values” what he brings to a defense.

Hey Les Snead, got any millions-of-dollars and first round picks left in that desk drawer of yours?

The 25-year-old Smith has been a top-five inside linebacker since the day he entered the league as the eighth overall pick in 2018. Smith had a career-high 163 tackles last year, to go with three sacks, 12 TFL, and an interception. He’s also been a shutdown linebacker in coverage and there’s no doubt that he’s asking to be the highest paid at his position in NFL history.

Currently, Shaquille Leonard (formerly Darius) and Fred Warner top the inside linebacker market at $19-$19.7 million per year. But Smith says that Chicago is “trying to take advantage” of him and that the contract offered by the Bears “would be bad for myself, and for the entire LB market if I signed it.”

Though the Rams have welcomed former Smith’s teammate Leonard Floyd and previously employed Brandon Staley, a linebackers assistant in Chicago in 2018, the team has already signed Bobby Wagner to shore up the inside position. This trade for Snead looks very unlikely.

Could Smith still end up in the NFC West?

The 49ers are not going to be an option. San Francisco is listed with having the least amount of remaining camp space for 2022, although they will actually have the most if they trade Jimmy Garoppolo to the Browns. Even releasing Garoppolo would jump the 49ers to having the second-most space. But they’re already paying Warner top dollar at inside linebacker.

The Cardinals drafted inside linebackers in the first round in both 2020 and 2021, but Isaiah Simmons has been playing a lot more safety in camp. After losing Chandler Jones in the offseason, would Arizona want to earn some brownie points for a bad year by acquiring an All-Pro linebacker?

The Seahawks are not going to be in contention for anything this year, but former Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai is now an assistant in Seattle. Would Desai want to convince the Seahawks to make a move for Smith for a long-term benefit?

This all depends on if the Bears are even willing to meet Roquan Smith’s trade demand. It doesn’t seem like they’re willing to meet his contract demands.