Rusted metal on car?

I drive a 2003 mazda protege that I purchased used.
I recently noticed a squeaking noise that sounded like rusted metal rubbing against itself. I looked under my car and noticed that a rusted piece at the bottom of the car was hanging slightly and today on my drive home that same piece started to hang lower. It is now hanging low enough that it scratches the ground if I drive.
My question is, can i break the piece of rusted metal off? Or does this need to be inspected by a mechanic?
I don’t know much about cars, so I don’t know if it covers something important and need to know if it is dangerous to break the piece off?!

If it helps, I recently fixed my right wheel bearing and in the past had to fix the exhaust pipe.

Open to any and all answers! Thank you!

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