Turns out, Bears general manager Ryan Pace does know how to walk away from one of his former first-round picks.
The Bears’ signing of Cowboys edge rusher Robert Quinn —ESPN reports it’s a five-year deal worth $30 million guaranteed and $70 million overall — spells the end of Leonard Floyd’s tenure with the team. Th Bears made it official Tuesday afternoon, cutting him one day before his $13.2 million contract for 2020 was to become guaranteed.
The team picked up Floyd’s 2020 option last year. But it was guaranteed only for injury, meaning that releasing him came with no penalty.
Despite playing opposite Khalil Mack, Floyd has struggled to sack the quarterback the past two years, totaling seven in 32 games. He has 18 1⁄2 in four seasons — but seven came in his rookie year.
The Bears liked Floyd’s ability to play the run and defend the pass, but ultimately couldn’t justify paying him $13.2 million for one year to do only those things.
“He’s close in a lot of areas, when you look at the pressures and those things,” Pace said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “He just needs to finish a little better on the quarterback.”
Pace traded up to draft Floyd in 2014, giving the Buccaneers the No. 11 overall pick and a fourth-rounder to take him ninth overall. The Bears valued his athleticism, though there were questions about his strength and weight.
Quinn, who will turn 30 in May, had 11 1⁄2 sacks for the Cowboys last year. A former first-round pick, he spent his first seven years with the Rams and 2018 with the Dolphins. In 2013, he had a whopping 19 sacks.
Floyd marks the second first-round pick Pace allowed leave after his four-year rookie contract expired. The Bears let receiver Kevin White walk last year, and he didn’t play another regular-season game.
The general manager has one major decision left this month: deciding whether to allow another first-round pick, Mitch Trubisky, to remain entrenched as the starting quarterback. The Bears will acquire a veteran to at least push him —if not take the job altogether.