“We’re optimistic he’s here soon,” Pace told reporters Thursday, noting details in Smith’s contract were the reason for the hold up.
“There’s a process and meanwhile we’re moving forward.”
Pace did not set a timetable for Smith to report, per the Chicago Sun-Times.
Smith, an inside linebacker who was the eighth overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, did not report with rookies on Monday and continued to be absent as veterans came to Olivet Nazarene University on Thursday in Bourbonnais, Ill.
The 6-foot-1, 236-pound Smith helped lead Georgia to the national championship game last season, winning the Butkus Award as the top linebacker in college football.
Smith amassed 137 tackles, including 14 for loss, 6.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries during his stellar junior season. The 21-year-old clocked a 4.51 time in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.
He is expected to step in immediately for the Bears and play alongside fellow linebacker Danny Trevathan.