Leonard Floyd

NFC West Rumors: Fitzgerald, Gould, Reed

Speculating about Larry Fitzgerald‘s future has become something of a holiday tradition over the past few seasons. The surefire Hall-of-Famer did say earlier this year that if the Cardinals were to win Super Bowl LV, he would ride off into the sunset, but Arizona’s hopes for its first Lombardi Trophy suffered a major blow in an upset loss to the 49ers last night.

So will Fitz be back in 2021? As Rachel Gossen of ArizonaSports.com writes, head coach Kliff Kingsbury said he believes Fitzgerald could play for another four seasons, but Fitzgerald himself was noncommittal.

“I haven’t really given it much thought to be honest with you,” he said. Though Fitzgerald did add that it will be nice to have fans back in the stands when it’s safe, Kingsbury downplayed the notion that Fitzgerald would return just to receive a proper sendoff from the Cardinals’ faithful.

As we wait to see whether one of the best receivers in NFL history will call it a career, and as the Cards focus on keeping their fading playoff hopes alive, let’s round up a few more notes from the NFC West:

  • The 49ers have a big decision to make on kicker Robbie Gould this week. Per the four-year extension Gould signed in 2019, San Francisco has until January 2 to pick up an option that would guarantee $2.25MM of Gould’s $4.5MM 2021 salary. Gould had hit 90.5% of his field goal attempts heading into last night’s matchup with Arizona, but he missed two FGA’s and a PAT in a 20-12 win that could have been more decisive. However, head coach Kyle Shanahan said the performance will not impact the team’s decision on Gould’s contract. “You got to look at the body of work, and Robbie has been unbelievable,” Shanahan said (Twitter link via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area).
  • Claimed off waivers from the division-rival 49ers in August, Seahawks CB D.J. Reed has been a great find for Seattle. In eight games (six starts), Reed has lined up both in the slot and outside the numbers and has accumulated 49 tackles, two interceptions, and six passes defensed while yielding a modest 77.9 passer rating as the nearest defender (via NFL Next Gen stats). Though the 5-9 Reed does not fit the mold of the big-bodied specimens that Seattle generally prefers at the outside corner positions, Brady Henderson of ESPN.com thinks his presence could make the club more amenable to moving on from contract-year players Quinton Dunbar and Shaquill Griffin. Reed will be entering the final year of his rookie deal in 2021.
  • As Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic points out, the Rams would be about $26MM over the 2021 salary cap if the cap is decreased to $175MM as many expect. So while the club can certainly restructure the contracts of players like Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp to create space, it will also have tough decisions to make on pending free agents. Rodrigue posits that, if DC Brandon Staley gets hired as a head coach, he may try to bring safety John Johnson and outside linebacker Leonard Floyd with him, though Los Angeles will doubtlessly prioritize re-ups with both players. Meanwhile, Rodrigue sees players like WR Josh Reynolds and TE Gerald Everett signing elsewhere this offseason.

Rams Claim LB Justin Hollins, Add 15 To Practice Squad

The Rams left their roster at 52 players after cutdown day, and the team filled the roster spot with a player familiar with their new defensive coordinator.

Los Angeles submitted a waiver claim for Justin Hollins, a linebacker whom Denver cut Saturday, and the 2019 draft pick will rejoin Brandon Staley. The Broncos used Hollins at both inside and outside linebacker spots last season; Staley coached Denver’s outside linebackers in 2019.

This will bring another ex-Staley pupil to L.A. The Rams already signed Leonard Floyd, whom Staley coach in Chicago, to be a starter. Hollins, a fifth-round pick out of Oregon, profiles as a depth piece.

The Rams also set their practice squad Sunday. All 15 players were in camp with the Rams this year, so for those hoping to go in fresh for the Hard Knocks finale next week, this is the spoiler warning.

Here is how the Rams’ practice squad looks:

Rams Sign OLB Leonard Floyd

The Rams are making their first big splash of free agency. Los Angeles is signing outside linebacker Leonard Floyd to a one-year deal, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

It’s a $10MM deal that can be worth up to $13MM, Schefter reports. Floyd was cut by the Bears yesterday when Chicago signed fellow outside linebacker Robert Quinn, and it didn’t take him very long to find a new home. We heard word that the Giants were interested in Floyd, so Rams GM Les Snead likely had competition for his services. Floyd would’ve earned $13.2MM in 2020 under his fifth-year option had the Bears kept him, so his release won’t end up hurting him too much financially if at all.

The ninth overall pick back in 2016 Floyd was a bit of a disappointment in Chicago, but he’ll now get the chance to prove himself and re-enter unrestricted free agency at this time next year. The Georgia product became a starter as a rookie and showed plenty of flashes, racking up seven sacks in 12 games in his first year as a pro.

Unfortunately he never really progressed from that point, and his sack totals actually declined in each of the past three years. Still only 27, he has a lot of theoretical talent. He’ll slide in more or less as the replacement for Dante Fowler Jr., who just left the Rams to sign a three-year, $48MM deal with the Falcons less than an hour ago.

When the Rams next take the field looking to put their disappointing 2019 season behind them, their defense is going to look quite a bit different. Not only did they trade away cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib midway through last year, they’ve now seen a string of departures in free agency.

Safety Eric Weddle retired; Cory Littleton, Michael Brockers, and Fowler Jr. have now all departed in free agency, and the team just declined their option on usual slot corner Nickell Robey-Coleman. They’ve also replaced defensive coordinator Wade Phillips with Brandon Staley, so it’s safe to say that side of the ball is getting a complete makeover after Sean McVay’s dissatisfaction with the previous structure became evident.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants Interested In LB Leonard Floyd

Linebacker Leonard Floyd was cut by the Bears earlier today, but he’s already got several suitors lining up. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo tweets that the Giants are among the teams that are in play for Floyd.

There were high hopes for Floyd when the Bears selected him in the first-round of the 2016 Draft. The Georgia product had a productive rookie campaign, compiling seven sacks.

While the linebacker put up solid numbers in the subsequent three years, his sack numbers have dropped each season. The 27-year-old finished the 2019 campaign with 40 tackles and three sacks.

Floyd was set to earn $13.2MM in what was his fifth-year option year. That would have been tough to juggle after the Bears inked pass-rusher Robert Quinn to a lucrative five-year deal.

The Giants have been active in adding linebackers this week. They signed a pair of former Packers linebackers in Blake Martinez and Kyler Fackrell.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears To Sign Robert Quinn, Cut Leonard Floyd

In one fell swoop, the Bears have revamped their pass rush. On Tuesday, the Bears agreed to a five-year, $70MM deal with Robert Quinn, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). Meanwhile, they also released former first-round pick Leonard Floyd (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter).

Quinn’s deal includes $30MM fully guaranteed, giving him solid security over the course of the deal.

The Cowboys worked to keep Quinn, but the numbers crunch didn’t quite allow for that. Dallas, of course, came into the offseason with even bigger fish to fry, including negotiations with quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper. They already watched as cornerback Byron Jones left for the Dolphins, and now they’ll be losing another key member of their defense.

Quinn was the comeback kid in 2019, notching 11.5 sacks for Dallas. It was a resurgent year for the veteran, who had a rocky stretch following his last Pro Bowl appearance in 2014.

The 2011 first-round pick emerged as a serious force in 2012 and looked the part of a world-class defender in 2013 when he posted 19 sacks. He had a solid follow-up effort in 2014 (10.5 sacks), but he missed roughly half of 2015 and 2016 with the Rams. After spending the 2018 season with the Dolphins, Quinn was traded to the Cowboys last offseason.

There were high hopes for Floyd when the Bears selected him in the first-round of the 2016 Draft. The Georgia product had a productive rookie campaign, compiling seven sacks. While the linebacker put up solid numbers in the subsequent three years, his sack numbers have dropped each season. The 27-year-old finished the 2019 campaign with 40 tackles and three sacks.

Floyd was set to earn $13.2MM in what was his fifth-year option year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Bears’ OLB Leonard Floyd

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.

NFC Notes: Floyd, Bears, Buccaneers, Barrett, Vikings, Rhodes

The Bears have obviously been having a disappointing season. A year after being one of the toasts of the league and winning the NFC North, they’ve officially been eliminated from playoff contention following their loss to the Packers. With the postseason out of reach, all eyes will now turn toward the offseason. The elephant in the room is what Chicago will do with Mitchell Trubisky and the quarterback situation, but they have some other big decisions to make as well. Linebacker Leonard Floyd is set to make $13.2MM under the fifth-year option in 2020, but that’s entirely non-guaranteed money. They can cut him this offseason with no financial penalty, and Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune seems to think that’s a real possibility.

In an interesting column Biggs explores Floyd’s situation, noting all the dynamics at play. Floyd is the second first-round pick that GM Ryan Pace made since taking over the front office, and the first was megabust Kevin White. As such, Pace could be motivated to keep Floyd on the team to try and validate the pick. Floyd certainly hasn’t been bad and he’s been a full-time starter for the Bears since entering the league, but it’s fair to wonder if he’s lived up to the billing of a ninth overall pick. As Biggs points out, the option would make him the tenth highest-paid outside linebacker in the NFL. Floyd had seven sacks as a rookie, but only 4.5 two years ago and four last year. In 14 games this season, he has three. His money becomes guaranteed on March 18th, so the Bears will have to make a decision by then.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • Speaking of NFC pass-rushers, the Buccaneers’ Shaq Barrett has been having a breakout season. He just picked up his 16.5th sack of the year this past weekend, tying the legendary Warren Sapp for the all-time single season franchise record. He’s been a bright spot all year long for this Bucs defense, and they aren’t planning on letting him get away even as he prepares to enter unrestricted free agency this spring. “He ain’t going anywhere,” head coach Bruce Arians said of Barrett, who signed a one-year, $4MM deal this offseason, via Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. Barrett will likely be in line for a massive payday this offseason, and it sounds like the Buccaneers are ready to pay up. Barrett originally signed with the Broncos as an UDFA back in 2014, and was eventually able to get on the field as a situational rusher. He was slept on this offseason, and as we heard earlier this year, only one team other than Tampa even offered him a contract.
  • Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes played only 14 snaps against the Chargers this past weekend, but it wasn’t because of an injury. Head coach Mike Zimmer said after the game that Rhodes was healthy, and that his limited action was the plan going in, per Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. In other words, Rhodes got benched. The 2013 first-round pick quickly became a star and one of the league’s better corners, but he’s declined rapidly. He’s still started every game this season but his snaps have declined each of the past couple weeks, as he’s been burned repeatedly. A first-team All-Pro in 2017, Rhodes is under contract through the 2022 season as part of a five-year, $70MM extension he signed with the Vikings. There’s been a lot of talk that Minnesota will move on after this season, and it’ll be very interesting to see what happens to the 29-year-old.

Bears Pick Up Leonard Floyd’s Option

As expected, the Bears have picked up the fifth-year option on outside linebacker Leonard Floyd (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Field Yates). The former first-round pick is now under club control through the 2020 season. 

Floyd, who has registered 15.5 sacks through three seasons, is slated to earn $13.3MM in 2020. The additional year is guaranteed for injury only, so the Bears could theoretically escape the additional season without cap consequences if Floyd is able to pass a physical heading into the ’20 campaign.

Floyd, the ninth overall pick in 2016, played in all 16 games last season, marking his first ever campaign with perfect attendance. While he managed a career-low four sacks, Floyd ranked 31st among pass rushers with 30.5 quarterback pressures, according to Sports Info Solutions’ charting data. He also put up nine tackles for loss, 11 quarterback hits, and graded as the NFL’s No. 45 edge defender among 105 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus.

Floyd is eligible for a contract extension after completing his third NFL season, but the Bears have plenty of time to cross that bridge.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears To Exercise Leonard Floyd’s Option

The Bears intend to exercise edge rusher Leonard Floyd‘s 2020 fifth-year option, general manager Ryan Pace recently told reporters, including Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter link).

While the official figures for 2020 fifth-year options have yet to be revealed, Floyd’s salary should be roughly $13MM. That total will guaranteed for injury only, so if Floyd can’t pass a physical heading into the 2020 campaign, the Bears will be able to release him with no adverse salary cap consequences. NFL clubs have until May 2 to announce their option decisions for their respective 2016 first-round selections.

Floyd, the ninth overall pick in 2016, last year played in all 16 games for the first time in his career. While he managed a career-low four sacks, Floyd ranked 31st among pass rushers with 30.5 quarterback pressures, according to Sports Info Solutions’ charting data. He also put up nine tackles for loss, 11 quarterback hits, and graded as the NFL’s No. 45 edge defender among 105 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus.

Now that he’s completed his third NFL season, Floyd is eligible for a contract extension. But given that they have him under team control through 2020, the Bears figure to be deliberative with any negotiations.

NFC North Notes: Bears, Floyd, Lions, Vikings

Bears outside linebacker Leonard Floyd had surgery to repair a break in his right hand, as Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. However, coach Matt Nagy is hopeful that he’ll be able to play Week 1.

Floyd missed six games last year after tearing the MCL and PCL in his right knee, and the Bears do not want to lose him for any amount of time this year. Before that injury, he was on track to match and possibly top the seven sacks that he collected during his rookie season.

Here’s more from the NFC North: