With training camp underway, Bears rookie Roquan Smith still has not signed a contract. The NFL's new helmet contact rule is related to the delay, according to The Chicago Tribune.
"That's part of the issue," Bears head coach Matt Nagy told the Tribune.
Smith's representatives from CAA Football are asking the Bears to include language in his contract saying the team would not take any of the linebacker's guaranteed money if he were suspended under the NFL's new helmet rule.
The Bears have "resisted" granting Smith's contract request but have assured his camp that they would be "reasonable" in assessing any league action against Smith under the rule, reports the Tribune.
In March, NFL owners voted a rule change that allows the league to penalize, fine or suspend players for lowering their head to make contact with their helmet. The contact doesn't have to be helmet to helmet and applies to both offensive and defensive players.
The new rule simply says, "Lowering the head to initiate contact with the helmet is a foul."
Plays violate the new rule if a player "lowers his helmet to establish a linear body posture" with "an unobstructed path to his opponent." Players receive a 15-yard penalty for the violation and can be ejected. All ejections can be subject to video reviews by the league's replay team in New York City.
Last season, the Bears did not reclaim guaranteed money from linebacker Danny Trevathan, after he was suspended for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Packers wideout Davante Adams.
The Bears kick off the NFL's preseason when they face the Baltimore Ravens in the Hall of Fame game on Thursday, Aug. 2. Smith, drafted No. 8 overall by Chicago, is expected to be in the starting lineup this season if his contract is settled in time.