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Bears GM Ryan Pace Not Talking About Contract Standoff With Rookie Roquan Smith

Bears rookie linebacker Roquan Smith is still absent from training camp as he is now the lone draft choice unsigned.

Bears general manager Ryan Pace broke his silence on the matter Monday, Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune reports.

In his first public interview since reporting day at Olivet Nazarene University on July 19, Pace skillfully steered around a series of questions on how the Bears are handling Smith’s contract negotiations.

“That’s obviously a big topic right now,” the GM said during a guest appearance on WMVP-AM 1000. “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 has not been made available to reporters at Bears camp since the team started practicing a week-and-a-half ago. Monday’s radio cameo provided the GM an opportunity to share the team’s side of the Smith saga. But Pace offered little insight into how long Smith’s holdout might last or how the Bears will ultimately find a resolution to this situation.

“The good thing is we have strong relationships with these agents,” Pace said. “There are a number of guys on our team (who use) the same agency. We’ve dealt with them on a number of deals. It’s just working through those things. But to talk about anything related to contracts publicly is just not healthy. It’s not productive. But you can bet it’s important to us. It’s important to Roquan and we’re working on it.”

Pace said he appreciates the league’s intent to improve player safety by implementing the new rule to discourage players from lowering their helmet to initiate contact. Still, there seems to be anxiety amongst executives, coaches, players and agents leaguewide in regards to how consistently and frequently the new rules will be enforced with 15-yard penalties and possible ejections and suspensions.
“We’re all working through that,” Pace said. “This is a little bit new for all of us.”


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