Dannehy: Leonard Floyd Returning Best Answer to Pass Rush Problem

| May 25th, 2023

Leonard Floyd’s career was seen as a disappointment.

The GM who traded up to draft him with the ninth overall pick rescinded his fifth-year option and instead signed an older player, Robert Quinn. While Quinn had one great season with the Bears, that move looks like a clear mistake; Floyd picked up 29 sacks in three years with the Rams.

It isn’t just the sacks. Floyd had 22 quarterback hits last year, 18 the year before and 19 in 2020 — the three best totals of his career. A large part of the success has to do with Aaron Donald constantly destroying the pocket. Another part is just that the Rams let him rush the passer more; Floyd had 442 pass-rush snaps with the Bears in 2019, according to Pro Football Focus. He averaged 561 per season with the Rams.

Floyd would bring speed and bend off the edge that the Bears don’t currently have. He has also been durable, not missing a game since 2017. Will that continue? (He’ll turn 31 next season.)

Run defense has been a reason why another top free agent edge, Yannick Ngakoue, has had trouble finding a home despite impressive pass rush numbers. Ngakoue isn’t a bad option either but doesn’t fit quite as cleanly as Floyd would. While he weighs somewhere in the 245-pound range, Floyd has always been a solid run defender.

There have been rumors about possibly adding Chase Young from Washington via trade, but trading anything more than a day three pick for a player who hasn’t made an impact since 2020 would be quite risky. The Bears could also check on Montez Sweat, a soon-to-be 27-year-old entering a contract year, but he’d probably cost one of the team’s first round picks and doesn’t have a 10-sack season to his name. Also, the Commanders are probably going to try to win this year to impress a new owner and, with Sam Howell at quarterback, they’re going to need a good defense to make that happen. Sweat and Young are both worth monitoring for next offseason, however.

It might be worth calling the Jaguars about Josh Allen or the Cowboys about Dorance Armstrong, but those teams are looking to contend so why would they trade good, young pass rushers? Some have tried to connect Bryce Huff to the Bears, but Huff is about six-foot-two and has arms shorter than 32 inches — if there’s one thing we know about the Bears it’s that length is a priority. And like with the other two, he plays for a contending team that isn’t likely going to risk losing a pass rusher.

Floyd is the simple solution and would likely only require a one-year deal. The Bears would give him the opportunity to pin his ears back and attack the quarterback with his eyes on one last big pay day. He likely wouldn’t be too expensive and would carry no long-term risk.

Floyd isn’t a perfect answer, but there really weren’t any great solutions available this offseason.