Roquan Smith trade fits: 10 NFL teams with picks, salary-cap space for Chicago Bears linebacker

Roquan Smith is among the NFL's top defensive stars, but the potential trade market for his services is an open question. Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire

A premier linebacker wants a new home.

Roquan Smith -- widely regarded inside the league as a top-five player at his position -- said in a statement that he is requesting a trade from the Chicago Bears after the front office "refused to negotiate in good faith" and "doesn't value" him.

That clicking you hear is the sound of Bears fans typing "smh" into their phones. Coming off a six-win season and processing a clear rebuild under a new front office was hard enough.

Smith, 25, is a year away from free agency and wants a new deal now. Word began to circulate last week that the Bears' contract offer was unimpressive to the player.

And now Chicago must make a decision that will challenge the direction of first-year general manager Ryan Poles: Decide to pay your best player, even if you didn't draft him, or complete the teardown by dealing another marquee defender after the Bears previously sent Khalil Mack to the Los Angeles Chargers in March.

A trade request can go one of two ways: It can prompt a better contract offer from the original team (Smith's message was harsh), or it can expedite the inevitable changing of jerseys.

Either way, interest from around the league should be high. Over four seasons, Smith has reached elite status by filling up the stat sheet, with 524 tackles (43 for a loss), 14 sacks, 17 pass deflections and five interceptions. He ranked fifth in the league in tackles last season (163). He plays all three downs and impressed in coverage.

When I asked a high-ranking NFL exec which teams should or will be interested, the response was, "31 teams. The guy is a baller."