The Chicago Bears received some unwelcome news on Monday.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, star linebacker Roquan Smith won’t be participating in training camp when veterans report this week.

“All-Pro LB Roquan Smith will not be participating in training camp when veteran report tomorrow, sources say, because of his contract situation,” tweeted Rapoport. “Smith has not yet received an offer he would remotely consider, thus he’ll wait.”

Smith was the No. 8 overall pick by the Bears in the 2018 NFL Draft. And so far, he’s played like a first-round draft pick.

The former Georgia Bulldogs standout is a two-time second-team All-Pro. He’s led Chicago in tackles in each of his first four seasons in the NFL. Smith is set to play the 2022 season on his fifth-year option deal (a base salary of $9.7 million).

Bears
Nov 21, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears inside linebacker Roquan Smith (58) tackles Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Devin Duvernay (13) in the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

This is a player the Bears need to keep in Chicago for the long haul. Smith embodies what new head coach Matt Eberflus wants in a defensive player. He’s tough, relentless, and physical. Smith is exactly who the Bears should be building their defense around.

And I think they need to make it clear that he’s not going anywhere.

Sure, the Bears could let Smith play this season (after he holds out) on the fifth-year option and then franchise tag him next offseason. That would give Chicago some extra time to work out an extension.

But why wait?

Smith is only going to get more expensive with another solid year under his belt. The Bears might as well go ahead and make this the first major signing of the Ryan Poles era. Lock up the defensive centerpiece and continue on with the massive rebuild.

It’s hard to envision the Bears’ future without Smith, which is why there’s no reason to wait to get this deal done.

Featured image via Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports