It’s only 94 days until the Chicago Bears season is officially underway. Here’s a look at number 94, Leonard Floyd.
2016 Season Review
If you were disappointed in Leonard Floyd’s rookie season, you had your expectations set way too high. Floyd had a stellar first-year campaign and showed the athleticism and talent as to why Ryan Pace made him his first round selection last season.
Floyd was inconsistent at times and dealt with a couple of injuries but he still managed to tally seven sacks in 12 games. He made several impact plays. Highlighting those plays was one against the Green Bay Packers on Thursday Night Football where Floyd sacked Aaron Rodgers, forcing a fumble in which he recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown.
Floyd also tallied a safety against the San Francisco 49ers and proved countless times that he has the ability to be the big-time pass rusher the Bears desperately need.
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The Bears are expecting big things in year two. If Floyd makes the strides the team is expecting him to make, he should jump into double-digit sacks and hopefully become one of the elite pass rushers in the game. If Pernell McPhee stays healthy on the opposite side, the Bears could have a formidable pass rush and get to the quarterback better than we’ve seen in years, if not decades.
For the Bears to make strides and become competitive, they are going to have to become a top-notch defense while the offensive talent develops. The strength of the Bears defense will be up front, specifically the pass rush, and Floyd hopefully will be the face of that pass rush. If Floyd takes the steps he is expected to take, a Pro Bowl nod isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
Future with the Bears
If the Bears have what they think they have, they expect Floyd to be a cornerstone of the defense for the next decade or more. Floyd is currently on his rookie deal that guarantees him to be on the roster until 2019. If Floyd does become an elite pass rusher, the Bears can pick up his fifth-year option and keep him on the squad until 2020. At that point, if Floyd is producing like a first round talent, the Bears will pony up on a multiyear extension to keep him on the squad until 2025 or later.
Based on his rookie season, if Floyd doesn’t become the player he’s expected to become, that’s going to be a major blow to Ryan Pace and this organization. If Floyd is an impact defensive player and Mitch Trubisky is a top-notch QB, that combo could become the Khalil Mack-Derek Carr combo that quickly turned around the Oakland Raiders.