Leonard Floyd’s late-year push appears to have made what might have been a difficult decision earlier in the season a bit easier.
Pace says #Bears plan to pick up fifth-year option on OLB Leonard Floyd.
— Larry Mayer (@LarryMayer) January 14, 2019
Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace told reporters at Halas Hall the team plans on picking up the fifth-year option on Floyd’s rookie deal. The team has to send a player a written notice of the decision prior to May 3, but expressing a desire to do so publicly on January 14 has to feel good for Floyd. Once it becomes officially official, Floyd will become the first Pace-first-round pick to get the fifth-year of his rookie deal guaranteed. The Bears had declined the fifth-year option on first-round picks in each of the last two offseasons (2014 cornerback Kyle Fuller and 2015 wide receiver Kevin White).
As for the cost of doing business and picking up the option, it will be pricey. Floyd was a top-10 pick, so the salary for his fifth-year contract (which will be fully guaranteed, by the way) figures to be the average of the top-10 players at a his position. To give you an idea of what that looks like, Khalil Mack, who was drafted in 2014, played the 2018 season on the fifth-year option and it was worth $13.8 million.
Floyd isn’t Mack, but he is coming off what might be his best, most productive, and healthiest year as a pro. Even though Floyd picked up just four sacks, he played in all 16 games, set a new career-high with nine tackles for loss, and also collected 11 quarterback hits. But the two most important things to come from this season were Floyd making it through a full 16-game season without missing a contest and that he showed improvement as the year went on.
Between dealing with a new position along the defensive alignment and trying to make it work while wearing protective gear on his hand, Floyd struggled out of the gate. There was even a point where Bears legend Richard Dent wanted to reach out and extend a helping hand to the struggling pass-rusher. But Floyd started to turn it around in November, started to capitalize on the Khalil Mack effect in early December, and was playing his way into the team’s long-term plans by season’s end. So in a sense, the fifth-year option being picked up is just the beginning for the University of Georgia product.