Teams around the NFL are reportedly keeping tabs on what’s happening in Chicago, as 2016 first-round pick Leonard Floyd could hit the free agent market.
The latest from Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune:
Clock is ticking for #Bears to decide if Leonard Floyd is worth $13.2 million this season. Some teams are keeping an eye on him as a potential cap casualty.
Zooming in on a decision that will be made before free agency kicks off.https://t.co/ir7HhN2qXZ
— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) March 10, 2020
Biggs reports that Floyd’s situation with the Bears is being monitored around the league. That’s because the ninth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft could be available if the team decides to cut ties with him in an effort to create salary cap space (albeit at the expense of opening up another spot on the roster that needs a new starter).
Floyd, 27, is scheduled to make $13.222 million when the new league year begins on March 18th. But if the Bears chose to release (or trade) Floyd, they could open up that much salary cap space for their free agent endeavors. As things stand now, OverTheCap.com estimates the Bears have $16,640,111 in available salary cap space. That number moves to $24,230,111 once the team officially moves the contract of retired offensive lineman Kyle Long off the books. And if Chicago made the decision to part ways with Floyd, the available space under the salary cap would balloon to $36,942,111. That would be a hefty chunk of change for a team that opened the offseason with minimal wiggle room in terms of cap space.
Of course, there are obvious hold ups as to why the Bears haven’t cut Floyd already to create the most cap space it can. Among them, the fact that there isn’t much depth behind Floyd and Leonard Mack on the depth chart. As we discussed in our offseason outlook at the position, Isaiah Irving is the only edge defender on the roster who started the regular season with the team. Beyond that, 2019 preseason standout James Vaughters is the only other edge rusher projected to be on the 90-man preseason roster. I suppose the Bears could re-invest that cap space into a free agent replacement. In that vein, Biggs offers up Vic Beasley (who we have discussed before), Kyle Vaan Noy, and Markus Golden as possible free agent targets.
It’s not that Floyd is a player who brings nothing to the table. If that was the case, the Bears would have already cleared his contract from the books by now. Instead, Floyd is more a jack-of-many trades, but master of none. Further, Floyd’s lack of growth as a pass-rusher is why we’re even having this conversation in the first place. Outside linebackers who set the edge, are solid against the run, and can contribute as pass defenders are nice. But at $13.222 million, more is expected.
The Bears are already at a turning point in their offseason, which is wild to think about because we are still eight days away from flipping the NFL calendar to 2020. Cutting Floyd would open up cap space, provide the Bears with some flexibility, and could pave a way toward bolstering the team as a whole. But parting ways with a dependable starter can’t be easy, especially since there isn’t a solid replacement option already on the roster who is waiting in the wings. And because the likelihood of Floyd taking a payout on a restructured deal that could come with an extension is virtually non-existent, the Bears are now fighting time as they approach a difficult decision.