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Steelers’ Acquiring Disgruntled Linebacker Roquan Smith Would Solidify Super Bowl Aspirations For 2-3 Years

Kamil Krzaczynski / USA TODAY Sports

Steelers’ Acquiring Disgruntled Linebacker Roquan Smith Would Solidify Super Bowl Aspirations For 2-3 Years

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a bit of a dilemma at the interior linebacker position with Robert Spillane and Devin Bush battling it out to play alongside newcomer, Myles Jack. The two were both listed on the depth chart as first-team linebackers and Spillane is gunning to shock camp and take the starting job over Bush. There are options out there, however, that could also include neither of them starting and maybe even traded if the Steelers want to improve their defense even more. Roquan Smith of the Chicago Bears formally requested a trade from the organization today and he would surely improve the team’s defense.

Steelers Robert Spillane

Jordan Schofield / SteelerNation (Twitter: @JSKO_PHOTO)

Smith is coming off of his best season as a pro in Chicago. He had 163 total tackles, 12 tackles for loss, three sacks and one interception. He played in all 17 games and was named a Second Team All-Pro. But, a move to trade for Smith would be a complicated one for the Steelers. While not impossible, there are many factors to take into account when theorizing about a possible deal.

The Steelers moving on Smith would be adding on to what is already the highest paid defense in the NFL and it might not make sense with a subpar, unproven offense, unless the team can extend Smith. The good news for the Bears is that there is no dead cap if they trade Smith post June 1st. The bad news is that Smith is on the last year of his rookie deal and a sign and trade is going to be necessary for any team to land Smith.

At 25 years old, Smith is one of the best young linebackers in the NFL and would probably cost a team at least $15 million a year in average salary, but probably more. The reason he is requesting a trade in the first place is due to his displeasure with the Bears intentions to extend him and make him one of, if not, the highest paid inside linebacker in the NFL.

Steelers Would Have Many Moving Pieces Trying To Acquire Smith

Smith’s new deal would be the first important piece of him being traded, but the Bears are going to want a haul. The highest paid linebacker is the NFL is Darius Leonard of the Indianapolis Colts and he receives $19.7 million a year. Trading Bush would relieve about $6 million in cap space, but that would only leave the Steelers with under $16 million for the 2022 season. The franchise will head into the season with at least $5 million in cap space so what else would need to be done?

A restructure of Cameron Heyward‘s contract could save the team over $6.5 million according to Over The Cap. This would leave over $20 million in room to sign Smith and it would be a scary sight for opposing offenses seeing Smith and Jack in the middle of the field every week.

Potential Steelers New Linebacker Roquan Smith?

Feb 3, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; New England Patriots former player Ty Law before Super Bowl LIII against the Los Angeles Rams at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

A good contract to look at is linebacker for the San Francisco 49ersFred Warner‘s. He reached an agreement for five years, $95 million and an average of $19 million yearly. Smith sees himself as one of the best at his position in the entire league and wants to be paid like it. Whichever team attempts to trade for him needs to have the financial ability to do so. The Steelers could make that work if they really wanted to.

Agreeing to a deal with Smith and including Bush in the package wouldn’t be all that is necessary to land Smith. Locking in a dominant linebacker who is just entering his prime would most likely cost the team a second round pick and possibly a late round pick as well. The Steelers are already missing a fifth round pick next season because of the trade for Ahkello Witherspoon last year.

At the end of the day, the Steelers probably won’t want another huge defensive contract on their hands, but they are going to be shopping for a starting inside linebacker in 2023 so why not inquire about solving that void now?

Do you think it is worth it for the Steelers to give up draft capital and move a bunch of money around to trade for Smith? Let us know in the comments below!




  1. Rick Tilves

    August 9, 2022 at 1:47 pm

    I would figure out a way to do it !

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  3. David

    August 9, 2022 at 4:58 pm

    Roquan would be a great addition to the defense. I enjoyed watching him play at UGA and Chicago when possible. The Bears haven’t figured out how to win consistently, Tomlin and the Steelers have

  4. Gene kraynak

    August 9, 2022 at 5:05 pm

    Why wait till 2023. If it is truly possible, without giving up lot’s of draft picks, let’s get it done and start thinking SUPER BOWL #7!!!

  5. Alonzo White

    August 9, 2022 at 6:57 pm

    With the energy and play making he can make by himself let alone playing beside Jack would be outstanding. We would be set for a few years to come. We know that he can make plays and plays hard. Look at his play from UGA up till his play with the bears. Great player and still can get better with better coaching staff. Sign him if possible

  6. Jeff

    August 10, 2022 at 10:02 am

    Great idea but for this to be worth the reward he’d need to be locked up with a new deal upon trading for him.

  7. PittDirt53

    August 11, 2022 at 12:09 am

    Do it. You’ll have a QB on his rookie deal for the next 5 seasons. By then Smith will be 30 and can be cut loose to free up space to pay for Pickett’s expected 2nd contract.

    Maybe some solid ILB play can boost the run defense and start winning some playoff games.

  8. DeLano Calhoun

    August 11, 2022 at 12:53 am

    Yes the Defense would be elite enough to contend for Champions For the next few Years or more

  9. John Cupec

    August 11, 2022 at 4:57 am

    There would be the question of his jersey number. It’s been unofficially retired by the Steelers.

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