GM Ryan Pace has proven already he’s never adverse to making a bold Chicago Bears trade. He went after Mitch Trubisky in 2017. He went after Khalil Mack in 2018 and then David Montgomery in 2019. The guy believes he has to remain aggressive in order to get this team where it needs to go. That of course is the Super Bowl.
So would Pace consider just one more such move? It would certainly have to be for somebody who is a legitimate difference-maker. How about Leonard Williams? That’s right. The former Pro Bowl defensive end of the New York Jets. According to Rich Cimini of ESPN, there is a growing chorus who believe the team might be position to move on from him
“There’s already talk in league circles that Gase could be looking to move on from Williams, who will be a free agent after the season. He’s due to make a guaranteed $14.2 million in the final year of his contract. Gase hasn’t said anything about Williams that would spark speculation, but it’s not hard to connect the dots when examining the defensive line situation. The Jets already have $32.5 million invested in rookie Quinnen Williams (once he signs) and $17 million invested in Henry Anderson — all guaranteed money.”
So aside from availability, what sort of deal should the Bears consider if it’s something they wanted to pursue?
Leonard Floyd and a 2nd rounder for Leonard Williams fits
The reasoning behind this move centers around football business. New York will want a good package in return for Williams, obviously. In this case, the Bears could offer edge rusher Leonard Floyd and one of their two 2nd round picks in 2020. Why would they do that? Something to keep in mind here. Top 3-4 defensive ends don’t typically get paid as much as pass rushers.
For example, Jurrell Casey earned $15 million a year in new money from Tennessee. By contrast, Za’Darius Smith just got over $16 million from Green Bay while Trey Flowers got $18 million. So odds favor the Bears getting to keep Williams long-term at a slightly lower cost. Then there is the factor of age. Floyd turns 27-years old in September this year. Williams will be 25 in June. This despite him being drafted a year earlier.
Don’t forget that Akiem Hicks, woolly mammoth that he is, will be 30 this November. While he still has some good years left, it’s about time for the Bears to start thinking about their future at that position. Williams would be the ideal solution because he’s a proven talent who is still quite young. There would be one big lingering concern.
What about the edge rush?
Losing Floyd would deliver a tough blow to the Bears outside linebacker position. They’d still have Khalil Mack, which is great. Beyond him, it’s a lot of question marks though. Aaron Lynch, Isaiah Irvin, and Kylie Fitts are next in line with undrafted free agents Chuck Harris and Mathieu Betts pulling up the rear. Not a lot of proven names.
They’d have two options at that point. Ride the year out and hope Mack doesn’t get hurt, then go after edge rush help in 2020. Or they sign somebody on the free agent market for extra help. It’s worth noting former Packers outside linebacker Nick Perry is still available. Something to think about.
All of that aside? A trio of Hicks, Williams, and Eddie Goldman would certainly be something to watch on Sundays.