The dream that so many Chicago Bears fans had died on Thursday. Former Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston signed with the Indianapolis Colts. It was a two-year deal for $24 million. Along with Clay Matthews, that was the two best 3-4 outside linebackers on the market locked up now. People struggled to understand why the Bears weren’t able to get either.
There are simple answers to each. Let’s start with Matthews. For one, he’s the all-time great villain in Bears lore for the past decade. Seeing him in navy blue would’ve been unnatural after battling him so many years as a Packer. That aside, it was clear he wanted to be closer to his home in California and the Los Angeles Rams were an easy choice.
As for Houston, it was mostly price. The Bears just didn’t have the money to match what the Colts gave him at $12 million a year. Plus there was the connection to Chris Ballard who was in Kansas City before becoming GM in Indy. Both situations were ones where Chicago just didn’t have advantageous enough positions.
However, there is a deeper meaning behind the lack of urgency they’ve shown at a position they clearly need help at.
Colts are giving Justin Houston a two-year, $24 million contract, per source. https://t.co/gd02EM2YrF
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 21, 2019
Chicago Bears continue to have faith in Leonard Floyd
More than anything, the Bears made it clear with their non-rush for edge help that they remain committed to Leonard Floyd. It isn’t overly surprising. Pace demonstrated a belief in him from the moment he was drafted, trading up two spots to get him. Since then Floyd’s career has been a harrowing rollercoaster of dominant play following by brutally-timed injuries.
Last year was no different. Floyd went the first half of the season without a sack, having broken his hand in the preseason and forced to wear a cast. Then over the final nine games, he seemed to find his stride, collecting five sacks including one in the playoff game against Philadelphia. That was enough to convince Pace it was worth picking up Floyd’s 5th year option in his rookie contract.
They still feel he hasn’t peaked yet, which may be true. Ability was never his problem. It’s a question of whether he can ever make it through a full season healthy. Chicago is willing to stay patient and give him one more year. Thus they are content to play it cheap at the position, focusing on depth options instead.