General manager Ryan Pace revealed Monday that the Bears plan to pick up Leonard Floyd’s fifth-year option, meaning that the outside linebacker will remain under contract through the 2020 season.
The ninth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft started all 16 games this season for the first time in his career. Floyd registered 47 tackles, four sacks, nine tackles-for-loss, four pass breakups, one fumble recovery and one interception that he returned 19 yards for a touchdown in a win over the Bills.
“He played well and we’re happy where he’s at,” Pace said.
Floyd, who was selected as a Pro Bowl alternate, excelled during the second half of the season after recovering from a hand injury that hampered him early in the year.
In a division-clinching win over the Packers Dec. 9 at Soldier Field, the Georgia product recorded two sacks of Aaron Rodgers and made a key stop on a running play that forced a punt. Tarik Cohen followed with a 12-yard touchdown reception from Mitchell Trubisky that gave the Bears a 14-3 lead with :30 left in the first half.
Kicking it: Pace and coach Matt Nagy didn’t mince words Monday when discussing Cody Parkey’s performance this season or his decision to appear on “The Today Show.”
Parkey missed 10 kicks in his first season with the Bears, converting 23 of 30 field-goal attempts (76.7 percent) and 42 of 45 extra-point tries (93.3).
Parkey made 3 of 4 field goal attempts in a 16-15 wild-card loss to the Eagles. But his miss came on a 43-yarder with :05 remaining that could have given the Bears an 18-16 victory.
“That position is an emphasis for us,” Pace said. “We understand we need to get better, get more production out of that position. Matt talks about it all the time: There’s so much parity in our league, so many close games, the kicker position is critical. We know we need to get better there and it’ll be an area of focus.”
Asked directly whether Parkey would return as Bears kicker, Pace said: “Those are things that need to play out as we go into it.”
At the very least, the Bears general manager promised that there would be competition for the job, saying: “That’s going to be an emphasis and focus for us, the kicker position, and there will definitely be competition there.”
Less than a week after the Bears’ bitter loss to the Eagles, Parkey appeared on “The Today Show” to discuss the missed kick.
Asked about the interview, Nagy said: “We always talk about a ‘we’ and not a ‘me’ thing, and we always talk as a team, we win as a team, we lose as a team. I didn’t necessarily think that that was too much of a ‘we’ thing.”
Almost perfect: Pace is in contention for the NFL executive of the year award after a productive offseason. After hiring Nagy as head coach, Pace signed receivers Allen Robinson II and Taylor Gabriel and tight end Trey Burton in free agency; drafted linebacker Roquan Smith, guard James Daniels and receiver Anthony Miller; matched a contract offer to cornerback Kyle Fuller and traded for outside linebacker Khalil Mack.
Signing Parkey obviously didn’t work out as well as the other moves.
“However many UFAs we signed last year, you’re never going to bat a thousand,” Pace said. “I know Cody wishes he had a better season. We wish he had a better season, too. We’ve just got to evaluate that now. You’ve got to be honest with yourselves in these.
“As we go forward, that’s when we’ve got to be real and say, ‘Hey, that’s an important position for us. It’s a position of emphasis. We want more production out of that position and we’re going to get that. We’re going to strive for that. That’s going to be an area of focus.’
“Our goal, of course, is to hit on every draft pick and every UFA. But that’s just not reality. Sometimes when that doesn’t happen, you have to self-reflect and be honest and then improve it going forward.”
No Mack: Pace confirmed that Mack will not play in the Pro Bowl because he sustained a sprained knee in the Bears’ playoff loss to the Eagles.
“It’s nothing that we’re overly concerned about,” Pace said, “but it’ll prevent him from playing in the Pro Bowl.”
Mack has been replaced on the NFC roster by Giants outside linebacker Olivier Vernon.
Bears players still slated to appear in the Pro Bowl include Cohen, defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, cornerback Kyle Fuller and safety Eddie Jackson.