The NFL preseason is in full swing, and naturally, football fans have questions about their favorite franchises. That’s why Pro Football Network reaches into its weekly mailbag every Friday to keep you informed with NFL news, rumors, and analysis!
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NFL News and Rumors Mailbag: Bears, Lions, and Jaguars
What is a reasonable asking price for linebacker Roquan Smith after he asked to be moved by the Chicago Bears?
In case you missed it, former first-round pick Roquan Smith, who is set to play on his fifth-year option, publicly acknowledged his request for a trade from the Chicago Bears earlier this week. Smith is a two-time second-team All-Pro and was just taken off the physically unable to perform (PUP) list on Wednesday.
Smith said in a social-media post that the new Bears regime hasn’t valued him in contract extension talks. The brain trust — led by GM Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus — have publicly acknowledged their desire to keep Smith, despite watching several other notable pieces take their talents elsewhere. Smith just turned 25 in April and is in the prime of his career, as one of the best linebackers in the game.
All that said, the Bears are in an awkward position. They’re clearly rebuilding in an old-school fashion, stripping the paint and trying to put on a fresh coat one stroke at a time. So, with that in mind, Poles and Eberflus need to stick to their plan and address long-term plans accordingly.
While Smith doesn’t have the typical build that Eberflus had in Indianapolis with his linebackers, there’s no question that Smith is a top three player on the Bears’ roster entering the preseason.
But Smith has taken his grief public, and that’s how you build momentum for a trade out of town. The Bears likely don’t want to break the bank for a 4-3 linebacker, but they also don’t want to send the message that a player can manipulate their way out through a leveraged trade. Chicago would need a legitimate return for Smith to make a deal.
That said, there are two types of front offices in the NFL: those that value the linebacker position and ones that don’t. So, the market might be limited for a true treasure trove return for Smith, who also wants to be paid like a top linebacker in the NFL. A team trading for Smith will hand the player a ton of leverage, so a deal would likely be contingent on an agreed upon extension with the acquiring team.
With all that said, A.J. Brown was in a similar situation with the Tennessee Titans, and the Philadelphia Eagles happily traded first- and third-round picks to Nashville for him. The Eagles then signed Brown to a four-year, $100 million contract extension. Wideout is a much more valued position, so the Bears won’t get a similar return. Yet, a package of a second-round pick and a fifth-round selection might make sense.
PFN’s Dallas Robinson created a list of teams who could make sense for Smith as landing spots in a potential blockbuster trade.
Do you think the Lions are a playoff team due to the changing nature in the NFC?
While I think a lot of fans and pundits are sleeping on the Detroit Lions, I also still believe they’re a year away from a playoff push. For the Lions, the goal needs to be a significant improvement in wins. They won three games last year and doubling that total would be a huge step forward.
The Lions have made a lot of intriguing moves this year, and it’s hard not to root for them after Tuesday’s “Hard Knocks” debut on HBO.
That said, Jared Goff is on uneven footing entering his second season in Detroit. The Lions have improved the supporting cast around Goff, but the QB is really the straw that stirs the drink for Motown. If Goff can’t regain his 2018 or 2019 form, it’ll be hard for the Lions to push through their schedule to the playoffs.
I think six to seven wins this year is realistic. Anything beyond that is truly house money and a massive surprise.
Do you think the Jaguars have a legitimate chance to win the AFC South?
Like the Lions, the key for the Jacksonville Jaguars is monumental improvement. With the bar so low, that means simply doubling or tripling their previous record, not the playoffs or division.
The Indianapolis Colts are better, and the Tennessee Titans are built to contend again as well. The Houston Texans are an enigmatic franchise, but the Jaguars seem to have an arrow pointed up with Doug Pederson in charge.
That said, the upside for the Jags is probably a seven- or eight-win season. That would indeed be a monumental improvement from the dreaded Urban Meyer era a year ago. Trevor Lawrence is expected to make a massive leap in development, and Christian Kirk, Brandon Scherff, and Zay Jones can help with that step.
I think 2023 will be a huge year for Jacksonville. For now, it’s simply about big improvement without division championships and playoffs on the mind.