Going into his third season, both the franchise and fans alike placed understandably high hopes for the pass rusher Leonard Floyd. Though an injury-ravaged rookie and sophomore campaign matted the hype for the former ninth overall selection, consistent health seemed all in his way of blossoming into a premier pass rusher in the NFL. After all, his lengthy athleticism and strong motor witnessed from his college days indicated a future twelve sack level pass rusher. Yet, eight games in, the should-be anchor of the Bears pass rush hasn’t even recorded a sack. As a rookie, Floyd dropped the quarterback seven times in only twelve games but, despite being completely healthy and far more experienced, has regressed mightily.
Talent-wise, his only concern of a thin frame no longer can be an out for the now-250 pound pass rusher, especially considering his level of jaunty agility and deceptive speed for his size. Honestly, the raw skill alone should build a valuable pass rusher but nothing even close to reflecting his skill level has come up in the stat sheet. Missed tackles have been a fatal flaw in the Bears defense and Floyd doesn’t ease the mistakes enough to justify his inability to chase a quarterback.
Even more concerning, the addition of the megastar pass rusher Khalil Mack should allow plenty of opportunities for Floyd. With Mack plowing through double teams every down, Floyd’s inability to get to the quarterback can’t be excused. If Aaron Lynch and the rookie middle linebacker Roquan Smith can achieve two more sacks a piece up to this point, then Floyd has ruined the finest of circumstances for production. Even with Mack’s unparalleled dominance for the first quarter of the season, the Bears still rank 21st in sacks because of the gaping hole of Floyd’s consistent no-shows in the box score.
A total liability in the pass rush, Floyd fails to serve his organizational purpose. Coming up on the trade deadline will offer a chance to cut ties with Floyd and with teams already inquiring about his availability, the Bears must snap if a solid deal pops up. His undeniable regression can’t be justified nor can it be endured any longer. The decent production from Aaron Lynch, the flashes from Roy Robertson-Harris, and the possibility of rookie Kylie Fitts working his way into the equation fans the flames well enough to consider life after Floyd may not be as difficult.
Though Mack’s impact alone could theoretically keep a defense competitive, the necessity of exterior options for pressure can’t be ignored. Other defenders have cashed in beautifully, with defensive end Akiem Hicks putting together a career year and lesser-known contributors like Lynch and Robertson-Harris have impressed enough when given the chance. And while given a generously healthy shot, Floyd hasn’t proven to be the star envisioned coming out of Georgia.
While one more season remains on his rookie deal, this must be seen as a leveraging advantage for Tuesday’s trade deadline. The decision to give him another chance would be a commendable one but moving an unproven contract year will be significantly more difficult than the more stable prove-it year Floyd will have on a new roster, especially with teams already contacting Chicago. A relatively easy sell, the sparks from his rookie year could be enough to lull a team into a fourth or fifth rounder or another solid contributor to the defense.
Though a disappointing topic, Floyd stint with the Bears feels like a hollow miss more than a flaming failure. Trading up in the draft instills such a faith in a prospect but simply nothing materialized for the now twenty-six-year-old. As a player who should be entering his prime, not falling off the stat sheet entirely, the disappointment in Floyd can’t be allowed to continue. Rather than letting him inevitably walk in free agency post-rookie deal, the Bears should chase a small compensation now for the Georgia product. Wasting this trade deadline desperation would be a mistake.