At least that’s what Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox claimed when he named the Lions one of two logical landing spots for free agent outside linebacker Leonard Floyd.
“Despite using a 2022 first-round pick on pass-rusher Aidan Hutchinson, the Lions registered a good-not-great 39 sacks last season,” Knox wrote. “They struggled overall defensively, finishing dead-last in yards allowed.
“Even after adding players like C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Cameron Sutton and rookie linebacker Jack Campbell, Detroit could afford to add a sack artist like Floyd. In Detroit, Floyd could be a valuable member of a rotation that also includes Hutchinson and 2022 sixth-round pick James Houston, who recorded eight sacks in seven games last year.”
In 2022, Floyd recorded 59 combined tackles, including 10 for loss, 22 quarterback hits and 9 sacks in 17 games.
Could the Lions Sign LB Leonard Floyd in NFL Free Agency?
The 30-year-old began his career as the No. 9 overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft with the Bears. He came out of Georgia as a top prospect in his class and joined a young, promising Chicago defense.
Floyd registered 7 sacks in 12 games as a rookie, but that was his best statistical season in Chicago. Over his second and third seasons, he had just 8.5 sacks combined.
During his second season in 2017, he missed the last six games because of a sprained MCL and PCL in his right knee. Floyd ended the season on injured reserve.
Upon returning, he never regained his rookie form while in Chicago. He had 11.5 sacks in his final 42 games with the Bears.
Floyd, though, rejuvenated his career with the Rams beginning in 2020. He posted a career-high 10.5 sacks, 19 quarterback hits and 11 tackles for loss in his first season with Los Angeles.
During 2021, he finished second on the team in sacks behind only Aaron Donald. He also had 2 sacks in four playoff games, helping the Rams win the Super Bowl a year ago.
In three seasons with the Rams, Floyd recorded at least 9 sacks, 7 tackles for loss and 18 quarterback hits in each campaign.
How Floyd Fits With the Lions
As Knox argued, the Lions could use an additional pass rusher to bookend with second-year defensive end Aidan Hutchinson. Preferably, that pass rusher should also be strong against the run.
Other than Hutchinson, the only other defender the Lions had last year with more than 4 sacks was 2022 sixth-round pick James Houston. The free agent additions of safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson and cornerback Cameron Sutton could indirectly help the team’s pass rush, but the Lions haven’t added a real notable veteran on the edge this offseason.
Floyd fits the bill as a pass rusher at least on paper. But the question is what he will be as a 30-plus-year-old player in a defense without Donald.
As seen with other strong Rams edge rushers, life gets harder for them when they move on to another team without the 7-time All-Pro defensive tackle.
The good news for Floyd is he posted 4 sacks, 4 tackles for loss and 11 quarterback hits in six games without Donald during 2022.
The other concern with signing Floyd for the Lions is his run defense. Among edge rushers who played at least half of his team’s defensive snaps last season, Pro Football Focus ranked Floyd 46th out of 61 players in run defense.
Detroit was 29th in rushing yards allowed and 30th in yards allowed per carry. As much as the Lions could use another pass rusher, an edge defender who is good against the run is arguably a bigger need.
The Lions have also been mentioned as a possible landing spot for Chase Young if the Washington Commanders considered trading the former No. 2 overall pick.