The best 2021 draft pick that the LA Rams could have offered to the Detroit Lions for Matthew Stafford was 57th overall, which is considerably worse than what most teams could have offered from the 2021 draft. The Rams still managed to acquire Stafford without including 57 — a point I haven’t seen anyone make yet — but instead turned to the third round to give Detroit something in immediate compensation besides Jared Goff.
Thankfully, Les Snead had extra ammo in the third round thanks to two key departures:
- The Falcons signing Dante Fowler to a deal with a $15 million annual salary
- The Lions hiring Brad Holmes, the very GM who traded Stafford to the Rams
Those two losses will turn into three third round picks thanks to the compensatory formula for players leaving in free agency and the Rooney Rule for hiring minority candidates. But losing Fowler also created a void in LA’s linebackers unit that did not seem easy to fill.
Fowler played in all 16 games in 2019, getting 80% of the Rams’ defensive snaps, and he recorded 11.5 sacks to go along with 58 tackles, 16 tackles for a loss, 16 QB hits, and six passes defensed. The Rams could not afford Fowler, but which linebacker with starting caliber production and pedigree could they afford?
Leonard Floyd, who had also recorded 11.5 sacks ... in the previous three seasons combined.
Probably still getting paid to some degree because of his top-10 draft status in 2016, Floyd signed a one-year deal that pays him a $6.6 million cap hit in 2020, with his bonus spread out between 2021 and 2022. Even if Floyd leaves in free agency, the Rams will be paying $3.3 million against the cap next season and $1.6 the following year because of their pact with Floyd to play that one year with the defense.
It was a good year for Floyd, but a great year for the defense.
While they may have different roles and playing styles, Floyd played in 90% of the snaps and finished with comparable statistics to Fowler — 55 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 19 QB hits, 11 TFL — and he is likely to find a long-term deal in free agency this time around.
Will the Rams be the one to give it to him?
We know that Sean McVay talked highly about him after the season, and comments like these were not something he reserved for every player ... which we now know can have significant implications about their futures with the team.
“We talk a lot about Leonard – the versatility, the relentless passion and really persistence that he played with, ability to affect the quarterback, ability to stop the run,” McVay said in his end-of-season press conference. “I think he was one of the more complete edge players in this league. Brandon had an experience with him in Chicago that made him feel really comfortable and confident. I felt comfortable (from) going against him and I thought you saw his best this year.”
However, Floyd’s season should have some red flags that pause an organization before paying him anything like what Dante Fowler got. Especially considering the 2020 season that Fowler just had in Atlanta. (It wasn’t good.)
Half of Floyd’s sacks came in only two games and they were both against Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks, a team and quarterback that the Rams defense had little issues dominating prior to Floyd’s arrival. Wilson was sacked 47 times, which is not unusual for the most-sacked quarterback in the league since he was drafted.
Floyd also had a two-sack game against his former team. That left Floyd with 3.5 sacks in his other 13 games.
Then in the playoffs, Floyd had two more sacks ... against the Seattle Seahawks. In the divisional round loss to the Green Bay Packers, he had three tackles and no sacks and nothing else of note over 70 snaps. (Season-high snap total.)
Leonard Floyd might be great in run defense. He might be an adequate pass rusher. He could be an excellent teammate. Is that type of linebacker worth a three-year, $50 million or a four-year, $65 million contract or something of that ilk?
If that’s the price tag for Floyd, it’s a rich one. Especially for a franchise that has other players they’d like to retain and other needs that they’d like to fill and they’ll have one less third round pick to do it with this year.
However, if another team decides that Floyd is worth that, then LA just turned their one-year agreement into potentially another third round compensatory pick.
Should the Rams prioritize keeping Leonard Floyd?
This poll is closed