Packers Named Best Fit For $64 Million Edge Rusher

Rashan Gary, Green Bay Packers

Getty Outside linebacker Preston Smith #91 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates with outside linebacker Rashan Gary after a sack during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game against the San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field on January 22, 2022 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

The Green Bay Packers had several deficiencies on defense last season, not the least of which was the lack of a consistent and effective pass rush.

Green Bay caught up with opposing quarterbacks just 34 times in 2022, finishing tied with the Cleveland Browns for the 27th-most sacks in the NFL, per StatMuse. Outside linebackers Preston Smith and Rashan Gary will both be back next season, but the Packers must add some help up the middle or on the edge to create more havoc opposing backfields.

A handful of serviceable to good options exist on the free agent market in 2023. Among them is outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, whom the Los Angeles Rams released on March 10.

Floyd Would Add Life to Packers’ Pass Rush After 3 Quality Seasons With Rams

Deebo Samuel

Getty Linebacker Leonard Floyd, formerly of the Los Angeles Rams, pursues wide receiver Deebo Samuel of the San Francisco 49ers during a game at Levi’s Stadium on October 3, 2022 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Floyd signed a four-year deal worth $64 million to join the Rams in 2020, playing out three of those seasons before his release just over a week ago.

Moving on from Floyd wasn’t a simple decision for the Rams after he produced a total of 98 quarterback pressures, 29 sacks and three forced turnovers over the previous three seasons, per Pro Football Reference.

Alex Ballentine of Bleacher Report pointed out as much on Saturday, March 18, when dubbed the Packers the best fit for Floyd out of all 31 other teams in the NFL.

Floyd was an especially painful player to let go. He has 29 sacks over the past three seasons, including nine last year. Playing alongside Aaron Donald is obviously nice, but Floyd is a legitimate edge defender in his own right.

The Packers could use a third pass-rusher to team with Rashan Gary and Preston Smith. Like the Rams, they operate from a base 3-4 front, and defensive coordinator Joe Barry worked with Floyd in his last season as the Rams’ linebackers coach in 2020. Floyd had 10.5 sacks that season.

Packers Have Only 2 Proven Pass Rushers on Current Roster

GettyThe Green Bay Packers cleared more than $16 million in salary cap space in 2023 by way of contract tweaks for outside linebacker Preston Smith and cornerback Jaire Alexander.

As far as pass rushers go, Green Bay can procure Floyd at relative value. Spotrac projects the market value of the 30-year-old veteran at approximately $13.7 million annually over a three-year contract.

It is a potential addition that may be well worth the money considering the team’s struggles off the edge last year and that the Packers defense will likely have to pick up more slack with the impending departure of quarterback Aaron Rodgers to the New York Jets.

Smith earned his money in 2022, tallying 8.5 sacks to lead the team and adding 27 quarterback pressures. After him, however, the performance level fell off significantly.

Gary was second on the team in sacks with six, which he complemented with 17 pressures, but also missed eight regular season games due to a season-ending ACL injury he suffered in Week 9 against the Detroit Lions. No other player on the Packers defense put up more than four sacks last season, per statistics provided by ESPN.

Read More
Comment Here
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x