Leonard Floyd's excellent second half of the 2018 season ensured that the Bears will pick up his fifth-year, 2020 option, GM Ryan Pace confirmed Monday at the club's season-ending news conference.
Floyd, the No. 9 overall pick in 2016, signed a four-year, $15.7 million rookie deal with a fifth-year team option, which for top-10 picks is equal to the transition tag at their position. Last season, the linebacker transition tender was worth $12.8 million, which could rise to around $14 million this offseason.
The Bears have until mid-May to officially exercise the option, guaranteeing Floyd's 2020 salary for injury only. That last part is key, speaking to the confidence Floyd has earned from the Bears after a few trying seasons and why the team believes his "arrow is pointing up."
Floyd, 26, broke his right hand in the preseason, initially setting an ominous tone for Year 3 after he was limited by injuries to 22 combined appearances over his first two years. But after a slow start, partially the result of donning a large, protective cast on his hand in the first two games, he authored the best level of sustained play in his NFL career over the second half of 2018, notching four sacks and consistently setting the edge for the NFL's most dominant defense.
Indeed, Floyd's impact on the NFL's No. 1 scoring 'D' last season was greater than the stat sheet reflects: 4 sacks, 4 passes defensed, 1 pick-six. A long and rangy defender, he was used in virtually every facet of Vic Fangio's 'D,' from burning the edges as a pass rusher to shutting down the run and even covering dangerous receiving backs in the slot and out of the backfield.
Floyd dealt with a hamstring injury early in his rookie season, costing him early development time, and endured a concussion late in the year, shutting him down and requiring more than two months of his first full offseason from which to recover. He then underwent season-ending arthroscopic knee surgery in November of Year 2.
But Floyd showed his toughness and growth while playing all 16 regular-season games for the first time in 2018. Around midseason, the likelihood of the Bears picking up his option seemed iffy.
But his strong finish, paired with the fact that Chicago doesn't have a first-round pick either of the next two seasons, means there only will be so many chances to address the OLB position, likely none involving a player as talented as Floyd.