We heard back in December that the Bears could part ways with outside linebacker and former first-round pick Leonard Floyd this offseason. Last May, Chicago exercised Floyd’s fifth-year option, which would keep him under contract through the 2020 campaign at a salary of $13.2MM, but as of right now, that salary is guaranteed for injury only. As such, the Bears could cut Floyd and obtain $13.2MM of cap space.
However, they would need to do that soon, because the salary becomes fully guaranteed when the new league year begins on March 18. And as Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune writes, some believe that GM Ryan Pace will indeed release Floyd within the week.
Floyd has by no means been a bad player, and he has been a full-time starter since his rookie campaign. But after posting seven sacks in 12 games in 2016, those numbers have tailed off considerably. He has accrued just 11.5 sacks in the last three seasons, and Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics pegged him as just the 53rd-best edge defender in 2019. He managed 27 QB hurries in 2019 after 30.5 in 2018, but he has not yet been able to convert those hurries into sacks on a regular basis.
“He’s close in a lot of areas when you look at the pressures and those things,” Pace said. “He just needs to finish a little better on the quarterback.” While acknowledging that the team would like to see more sack production out of Floyd, Pace did say that Floyd’s versatility and his coverage abilities make him an asset.
Still, $13.2MM is a lot for a solid but replaceable player, especially since the Bears don’t have a ton of cap room to work with. While the top edge rushers who would otherwise be eligible for free agency are likely to remain with their current teams, players like Kyle Van Noy and Vic Beasley could be available, and Pace could also turn to the draft.
A Floyd trade or paycut is unlikely, according to Biggs.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.