Out of the spotlight, Rams OLB Leonard Floyd thrives after Bears dump him

Floyd is about to play in his first Super Bowl and is enjoying the “peace” of playing without the mountain of pressure he was under with the Bears.

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Leonard Floyd has more sacks in two seasons with the Rams (20) than he had in four with the Bears (18.5).

Leonard Floyd has more sacks in two seasons with the Rams (20) than he had in four with the Bears (18.5).

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES — Former Bears first-round pick Leonard Floyd is well down the list of Rams defensive stars, which is hardly an insult given how many All-Pros they have, but he is not to be overlooked.

In the two seasons since the Bears dumped him, Floyd has been the player they always imagined — and the player he always imagined he could be, in the right situation.

“My first four years, I mean, I gave them all I had,” Floyd said of the Bears on Thursday. “I have no regrets about Chicago. I’m all L.A. now, and I’m all about the future.

Then he paused and added, “Thank you, Chicago.”

That thank-you could mean a lot of things.

Perhaps Floyd is grateful for what he learned under Khalil Mack and former defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. More likely, it’s one of those defiant thank-yous, as in thanks for giving up on him.

It’s almost comical how badly the Bears and former general manager Ryan Pace whiffed on Floyd. First, they misjudged how well he’d fit in their system, then they parted with him just before he took off.

Floyd couldn’t be happier about the breakup, in hindsight. He’s an essential part of the Rams’ pass rush as they prepare to play the Bengals in Super Bowl LVI on Sunday.

While he always has been a solid, multifaceted outside linebacker, the Bears never saw him materialize as a pass rusher. But ever since the Rams scooped him up in free agency, he has been a monster. Floyd has more sacks for them (20) than he had in twice that time with the Bears (18½).

And that still leaves him as an afterthought behind Aaron Donald, one of the greatest defensive tackles of all time, and probable Hall of Famer Von Miller.

“If you bring Von’s name up, you gotta bring Flo’s name up,” Donald said Thursday after fielding what felt like the millionth question about Miller. “He’s a big guy, strong guy, but at the same time he’s got technique to play on the edge and he’s quick.

“He’s a big-time playmaker for us. It’s really been fun playing with Flo.”

Donald and Miller are the A-listers. Their dominance on the field and fame beyond it allows Floyd to work in silence.

Even after re-signing on a four-year, $64 million extension in the offseason, he’s not under nearly the pressure he felt with the Bears. Floyd didn’t offer any insight when asked why he’s thriving in Los Angeles after flopping in Chicago, but it must help that Donald and Miller are taking the full glare of the spotlight.

“There’s definitely benefits,” Floyd said. “I don’t have to talk to the media as much. I don’t get all the attention they get. It gives me peace. I don’t care for all the extra. I just want to line up and play.”

That simplicity has meant everything. His disappointing run with the Bears has faded, and now he’s one of the brightest stars about to take the biggest stage.

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