“No, that’s just the business side of things,” Smith said Tuesday, via the Chicago Tribune. “It is what it is. And I’m just happy to be here now.”
Smith’s lengthy absence finally ended effectively on Monday when the Bears reportedly compromised on voiding guarantees. The linebacker, who was selected eighth overall in April, was the only remaining unsigned pick of the 2018 NFL Draft.
The four-year contract was worth $18.4 million, with multiple media outlets reporting that it included $11.5 million guaranteed. Like all rookie deals, it included a team option for a fifth season.
Smith said he’s excited to get up to speed with the rest of his teammates after missing the Bears’ entire training camp and the club’s first two preseason contests.
“I have confidence in the coaches and the athletic training staff and myself,” the 21-year-old Smith said. “We’ll take the proper steps for me to come back.”
Coach Matt Nagy said that the team is looking forward — not backward — in regard to Smith.
“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.”
Nagy, however, said he wasn’t sure whether Smith will play against the Denver Broncos on Saturday.
“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.”
Smith helped lead Georgia to the national championship game last season, winning the Butkus Award as the top linebacker in college football as well as SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors.
The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Smith also was a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Chuck Bednarik Award, both of which are presented to the country’s top overall defensive player.
Smith amassed 137 tackles, including 14 for loss, 6.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries during his stellar junior season. He also was named Defensive MVP of the Rose Bowl in the College Football Playoff semifinal with 11 tackles as the Bulldogs defeated Oklahoma to advance to the national championship game.
Smith was projected to step in immediately for the Bears and play alongside fellow linebacker Danny Trevathan.