Chicago Bears linebacker Leonard Floyd

Could Chicago Bears edge rusher Leonard Floyd be a cap casualty in 2020

  • Chicago Bears
  • Leonard Floyd
By Daniel Goodwin III March 13, 2020 0 Comment
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With numerous holes to fill in the 2020 offseason to get back to contention, the Chicago Bears have to make a decision on Leonard Floyd and his contract.

The Chicago Bears followed up a 12 win season in 2018 with a forgettable 8-8 campaign in 2019. As they look to reverse the regression, they are faced with several tough decisions. One particularly tricky decision that has to be made rather quickly involves Leonard Floyd. The Bears picked up the fifth-year option on Floyd’s rookie contract. On March 18th, his contract will be fully guaranteed. Chicago could pull that fifth-year option and cut Floyd and save money to devote elsewhere. So the Bears have to decide if they are willing to pay him 13.2 million in 2020.

What makes this decision so difficult, is Chicago only has $24 million or so in cap space. The team is without a first and third-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft as well. Another issue with the numbers paying Floyd is the number of holes on the roster needing to be filled. Reports indicate that they plan to resign either Danny Trevathan or Nick Kwiatkoski to start alongside Roquan Smith at middle linebacker. There is also the need to upgrade the tight end, and possibly the quarterback position on offense. Speaking of offense, we cannot forget the hole at the right guard position due to Kyle Long‘s retirement. The secondary also needs attention after cutting Prince Amukamara, and the likely departure of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix via free agency.

What does Floyd’s production say?

If that didn’t leave you in a quandary, there is the question of his play. Since producing seven sacks as a rookie, his sack totals have declined each of the last three years. As an edge rusher, it is of utmost importance that you be able to get to the quarterback. However, his sack totals do not tell the entire story of his play on the gridiron. Floyd is exceptional when dropping back into pass coverage, and formidable against the run. He’s long and athletic, which allows the Bears to be flexible and use him in different situations and packages.

Even though Floyd was drafted ninth overall four years ago, and many expected a sack artist, his value is actually in his versatility. Something else to consider is the fact that Floyd plays on a defense that features Pro Bowl pass rushers like Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks. You could conclude that he does not need to produce double-digit sack totals. This defense has been ranked as a top ten unit in 2018 and 2019, which saw Floyd only get seven total sacks in those two years combined.

There is also the possibility of adding a Leonard Williams or Arik Armstead, one of these five technique-defensive ends that can get to the quarterback. It would allow Floyd to be who he is, which is a versatile outside linebacker who can cover a tight end or running back out of the backfield, and occasionally get pressure on the quarterback.

What benefits do the Bears gain if they cut Floyd?

There has been speculation that Chicago cuts Floyd, saves money, and uses it to sign another edge rusher. The move would not be wise because the significant issues the Bears have is on the offensive side of the ball. Why would you mess with the fabric of a defense that is ready and fits well together? Why would you create a hole in a defense that has been successful? You want to keep as many pieces of this defense together keeping the continuity.

The decision on Floyd’s future with Chicago is no longer perplexing. The answer is you keep Leonard Floyd. You extend him if at all possible. Focus on reaching a long-term contract extension that lowers Floyd’s cap hit in 2020. Use that money to address the apparent holes in the roster and the weaker positions that need to be upgraded. Leonard Floyd is a valuable piece to this defense. He is not an easily replaceable guy. It’s the last year of his rookie contract, and he has the potential to blossom into an even better.

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