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Did Rams cut Leonard Floyd too soon?

One of the L.A. Rams’ greatest weaknesses could have been addressed by a player they’re already paying

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Washington Commanders Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams have three sacks as a team this year, with 1.5 of those belonging to rookie Byron Young and the other half being split between three players. Young plays outside linebacker and has done well for any rookie, especially a third rounder, but edge has also been the position of greatest concern for many Rams fans, including whether it’s a good fit for current starter Michael Hoecht.

It has not been a problem for the Buffalo Bills though, as former L.A. outside linebacker Leonard Floyd already has 3.5 sacks and four pressures through three games. Did the Rams do enough to put Floyd in position to succeed and did they screw up by letting him go a year too soon?

Joining the Rams on a one-year contract in 2020, Floyd had 10.5 sacks under defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, a coach who knew him well from their days with the Chicago Bears. The Rams extended Floyd on a four-year deal in 2021 and though his numbers dipped slightly with Raheem Morris, he may have been more consistent that season and he had a career-high 37 pressures. Floyd was productive again in 2022, notching nine sacks and a career-high 22 QB hits, but there were 11 games in which he hda no sacks and almost all of his QB hits came in the other six contests.

Surprisingly, the Rams were far more successful as a team when Floyd didn’t pressure the QB than when he did.

L.A. decided that in spite of not having considerable cap savings and leaving a $19 million cap hit on the books, they needed to cut Leonard Floyd to get better. Did they make the right decision and could Morris have gotten more out of him than he did?

It’s only been three games, and we’ve already seen how Floyd can disappear for long stretches, but he seems to be playing his best football for Buffalo head coach and defensive coordinator Sean McDermott. Floyd had 1.5 sacks against the Jets in Week 1 (including unfortunately ending Aaron Rodgers season) and two sacks of Sam Howell in Week 3. The Bills obliterated Washington’s offensive line, sacking Howell nine times and pressuring him on almost 70% of dropbacks.

We know that the Bills have more talent around Floyd than what the Rams could have done, but are they kicking themselves over letting him go when it didn’t have any impact on the roster or salary cap? Floyd would be starting opposite of Young and potentially pushing Hoecht into a more natural fit, like defensive tackle.

The answer is still, probably not. I don’t think the Rams are regretting it. At least, not yet.

There is more time left this season for a player to emerge who could be better in the long run than Floyd, in addition to being more consistent and cheaper. Floyd may not have been the best fit for Morris and until there’s a change in defensive coordinator, this was probably a change that was necessary. That’s how L.A. felt then and probably how Les Snead and Sean McVay still feel now.