Packers Named Best Fit for $16 Million Edge Rusher, Former Top-10 Pick

Rashan Gary

Getty Rashan Gary celebrates a big play for the Packers in the 2022 playoffs.

The Green Bay Packers continue to move money around the balance sheet, a strong indicator that the front office isn’t finished adding pieces to the roster.

With the NFL Draft now a week in the rearview mirror, the most likely positions the Packers will address in free agency are wide receiver, safety and edge rusher. As important as the first two are, Green Bay’s pass-rush depth falls off rather precipitously after scrolling past outside linebackers Rashan Gary and Preston Smith. Adding one more disruptor would go a considerable way toward improving the team’s tally of 34 sacks last season, which tied the Packers with the Cleveland Browns for 27th in the league in that category.

Heavy NFL insider Matt Lombardo authored a list of the five best free agents available as of Thursday, May 4, and their corresponding best fits around the league. The top three players listed are all pass-rush specialists, including Leonard Floyd who Lombardo dubbed an ideal target for Green Bay.

“Unlike some names still available, Leonard Floyd has been able to stay healthy and on the field, appearing in every game since 2017 while producing at a high level,” Lombardo wrote. “Ideally, competitive teams looking for pass-rush help would be lining up to drop Floyd into their defense, at or near the top of the depth chart.”

Leonard Floyd Fits Packers’ Base Defense, Fills Pass Rush Need

Leonard Floyd

Getty Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, formerly of the Los Angeles Rams, lines up during a game against the Arizona Cardinals in September 2022.

Wherever Floyd plays next season, which will be his eighth in the NFL, he will do so at the age of 31 years old.

The Los Angeles Rams signed Floyd to a four-year deal worth $64 million total, or approximately $16 million annually, back in 2021. He had played in Los Angles on a one-year $10 million deal the season prior. Floyd had the most productive campaigns of his career in Southern California, tallying 98 quarterback pressures, 59 quarterback hits, 29 sacks and three forced turnovers across three seasons with the Rams, per Pro Football Reference.

Floyd inflicted his damage from the outside linebacker position, which is also where Gary and Smith line up in the Packers’ base 3-4 defensive scheme. Floyd is already familiar with the NFC North Division, having played his first four professional seasons there after the Chicago Bears selected him with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Packers Can Also Make Move for Pass Rusher Justin Houston

Bears Post-Draft FA Targets

GettyDefensive end Frank Clark, formerly of the Kansas City Chiefs, reacts after a sack against the Cincinnati Bengals during the AFC Championship Game in January 2023.

There are more high-level pass rushers available in May than would have been easy to guess when free agency started back in March. Among them are Frank Clark and Jadeveon Clowney, both mentioned on Lombardo’s Thursday list of best players available.

The problem for the Packers is that more traditional defensive ends like Clark and Clowney don’t fit in exactly with what they prefer to do on defense the way that a linebacker like Floyd does. If Floyd is too expensive or isn’t a match with Green Bay for whatever reason, the team could also look to Justin Houston, most recently of the Baltimore Ravens.

Houston will play next season at 34 years old but put up 9.5 sacks in just 14 regular season games in 2022. He has tallied 111.5 sacks during his career, can still strike terror into opposing offensive linemen and would add depth to a Packers’ pass rush that could desperately use some.

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