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Free Agent Spotlight: Outside Linebacker, Leonard Floyd

Could this former first-round bust go from the best defense in the league to a championship one?

After profiling potential fits for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and upcoming free-agents Adrian Peterson, Haason Reddick, Patrick Peterson and K.J. Wright, next up for me is Los Angeles Rams linebacker Leonard Floyd.

If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lose Shaquil Barrett to free-agency, they could find his replacement in Floyd who would be looking forward to a February 2022 homecoming, in Super Bowl 56.

Leonard Floyd’s Career Thus Far

North Texas v Georgia Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Leonard Floyd was supposed to be a New York Giants first-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers wanted Vernon Hargreaves III from the Florida Gators, which meant the Georgia Bulldogs linebacker was going to fall right into the laps of the Giants. Or so they thought.

Instead, the Bucs and the Chicago Bears swapped spots. The Bucs still got Hargreaves. Chicago got Floyd. And the Giants got hosed in more way than one when they panic-picked Ohio State cornerback, Eli Apple.

Truth be told, nobody won in this three-pick stretch. Tampa Bay later packaged the fourth-round pick they got from Chicago to move up for Roberto Aguayo.

Every player involved in this exchange no longer plays for the team they were drafted to, or in the NFL at all in some cases.

Floyd is still in the NFL of course. He’s not a Bears pass-rusher anymore, having moved on to the Rams after being released ahead of the 2020 NFL Season.

Floyd wasn’t a finished product when the Bears spent a first and a fourth-round pick to select him. He needed development to be what they wanted him to be. Injuries along the way significantly stunted his growth leading to his move out west on a one-year, ten-million dollar deal.

Not a bad way to bust.

Floyd left Chicago with 18.5 career sacks over a four-year span. His best season came in his first season when the rookie racked up seven sacks, but never reached five again in a single season.

In 2020, Floyd helped lead the Rams to the league’s best defense with 10.5 sacks. Not quite the one-year deal performance Shaquil Barrett had in 2019, but not bad by a long shot.

Now he’ll be looking to turn his third complete season, but first really productive one since 2016, into a new deal and significant compensation.

Why It Works

After three-years of full season appearances and one year of double-digit sack production, Floyd shouldn’t have a problem finding offers once the free-agency window opens.

What he might find, is problems getting the money he wants.

For starters, there’s a lower salary cap because of COVID-19 impacts on league revenue. While many expect this to get mostly rectified in the coming calendar year, there are no promises. This means teams may look to be a bit more frugal than most years.

Los Angeles Rams v Washington Football Team Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

The second reason he may not find the money he wants is the same reason we presume the Buccaneers weren’t jumping over themselves to sign Barrett to a long-term deal in the 2020 off-season. Simply, he hasn’t shown consistent production.

Nobody wants to pay a pass rusher top money for the next five-years based on one year of performance. Doesn’t mean they won’t. Does mean the Buccaneers might not though.

But....

We’re going to start this segment like we ended the last one. Money is a big part of this deal. Tampa Bay is currently spinning the golden thread trying to find money for as many of their own in-house free-agents as possible. It’s going to be hard for them to find cash for a newcomer. If Floyd wants to win and make some money, maybe he comes in to the Bucs with a reasonable cost.

If he too wants to ‘break the bank’, then he’ll have to find a different NFL branch to do it in.

What’s The Cost?

To the point here. Spotrac.com estimates his yearly average coming in at $13.1M per year on a fresh four-year contract. Significantly less than the $19.7M Barrett is projected to get, but not a small amount either.

What We Don’t Know

Right now, we don’t know the status of any Buccaneers in-house free-agents. Chris Godwin is rumored to be getting the franchise tag the way Barrett did last year. If this happens, the expectation is Barrett will go shopping for a new team and a bank in need of breaking.

Lavonte David was reportedly not expected to return to Tampa by NFL Network’s Mike Garofolo. Also, he was expected to return according to NFL Network’s Mike Garofolo. Yeah.

Restructures are in the works and we already know Mike Evans has agreed to take some bonus restructures to help free up some money. The more players leave, the more money to bring in new guys.

Nobody wants that to happen of course, but there are worse options than guys like Floyd, if push comes to shove.

Make The Decision

San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

You make the call. If there’s a need for a new pass rusher, is Floyd worth it to you?

Poll

When it comes to Leonard Floyd, what would you have the Buccaneers do?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Sign him, no matter what
    (4 votes)
  • 40%
    Make an offer, but keep it reasonable
    (51 votes)
  • 24%
    Invite him for a cup of coffee and see where it goes
    (31 votes)
  • 16%
    Call him up if they have a need after the NFL Draft
    (20 votes)
  • 15%
    Don’t need him
    (19 votes)
125 votes total Vote Now

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