Rams re-sign pass rusher Leonard Floyd after breakout year
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Pass rusher Leonard Floyd has agreed to a four-year deal to return to the Los Angeles Rams, slowing the team’s losses in free agency.
The Rams announced the deal Monday. ESPN reported the contract is worth $64 million for Floyd, who is coming off the best season of his five-year NFL career.
The Rams signed Floyd last April after the Chicago Bears released their former first-round pick amid disappointment with his declining sack totals. Floyd found his groove while playing alongside three-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald on the NFL’s No. 1 defense.
The outside linebacker finished 10th in the league with 10 1/2 sacks while racking up 55 tackles and 19 quarterback hits. He also excelled against the run while starting all 16 games.
Floyd was particularly sharp against NFC West champion Seattle, sacking Russell Wilson five times in the regular season and twice more in Los Angeles’ playoff victory over the Seahawks.
Floyd was among the top outside linebackers in the current free agent market after making $10 million with the Rams last season. Instead of letting an elite pass rusher walk — as the Rams did with Dante Fowler a year ago — they found room on their overstuffed payroll to keep a player who was clearly valued by his coaches and teammates.
The signing was the first good news of the free agent period for the Rams, whose flexibility is limited after consigning huge chunks of their cap room to dead money from the machinations needed to acquire players including quarterback Matthew Stafford.
John Johnson, the Rams’ starting free safety and defensive signal-caller, left for the Cleveland Browns shortly after the opening of the free agent signing period. Los Angeles then lost starting linebacker Samson Ebukam to San Francisco. Cornerback Troy Hill and backup defensive lineman Morgan Fox also are free agents.
Floyd’s return provides continuity on the Rams’ defensive front alongside Donald and fellow starters Michael Brockers and Sebastian Joseph-Day. Los Angeles intends to keep a 3-4 defensive front as new coordinator Raheem Morris takes over for Chargers head coach Brandon Staley.
The Rams also are all but certain to retain cornerback Darious Williams after giving a first-round tender to the restricted free agent. Williams was a breakout star last season, leading Los Angeles with four interceptions and 14 passes defensed opposite All-Pro Jalen Ramsey.
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By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer