You can never have too many pass rushers in today’s NFL. In a league where the rules are geared towards quarterbacks putting up video game numbers, you better have soldiers on the line scrimmage ready for battle weekly.
Robert Quinn was acquired via trade in March from the Miami Dolphins. Before his one year on South Beach, he spent seven years with the Rams, where he made his name known. By his second year in the league, he started to show flashes of being a big-time defensive end, with 10.5 sacks. This would start a string of three consecutive seasons of double-digit sacks, highlighted by his 19 in 2013 which earned him his only All-Pro selection.
He hasn’t reached ten or more sacks since 2014, with injuries playing a huge role in him falling short of that mark. He would log only fifteen starts from 2015 to 2016. However, he has played in 31 of a possible 32 games the last two seasons. It should also be noted that he’s played in at least fifteen games in every season except two. Despite a few setbacks he’s been pretty durable which is huge considering he plays such a physical position.
At first, there were rumblings that this signing was preparation for a potential divorce from All-Pro Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence, who at the time was trying to negotiate a long-term deal. However, just a few weeks later Lawrence signed a five year 105 million dollar contract, and it was clear the organization’s intentions were to pair the two.
This isn’t foreign territory for Quinn. In 2017, when Aaron Donald was making his third of four consecutive All-Pro teams, he registered 8.5 sacks in his last season with the Rams. Proving he’s ideal as a number two pass rusher, who can easily be a one on any given Sunday. It’s key to remember that Quinn will lineup at right defensive end. Most quarterbacks are right-handed, so his pressure will be from the blind side. Nothing frightens a quarterback more than pressure he can’t see.
An impactful season from Quinn will also make life easier for the interior pass rush. With Lawrence drawing double teams a lot, and himself getting chipped by back running backs while being engaged with left tackles in pass protection, your beast on the inside will have a lot of one-on-one opportunities. Guys like Antwaun Woods, Trysten Hill, and Maliek Collins could potentially have a field day only battling one offensive lineman on passing downs for the majority of a game. You control the line of scrimmage, you win games in the NFL, it’s just that simple.
He’s not just getting help from his coaches and fellow defensive linemen, but rather a teammate on the other side of the ball, All-Pro Left Tackle Tyron Smith. The advantage of going up against that kind of competition every day as you prepare for the season is extremely beneficial, and Quinn recognizes that.
“To go against that type of player each and every day only elevates my game. I give it my all, and you can’t take any plays off. I think both of us are making each other better, day in and day out,” Quinn said.
The real big win is the price it took to get Quinn, which wasn’t much. Stephen Jones dipped into his bag of tricks with this one, only giving up a 2020 sixth round pick. The money figures are even more to salivate over. His original 11.8 million dollar salary will be reduced to 8 million in a reworked one year deal, maxing out at 9 million with incentives. Also, it put about 4 million extra dollars in the Cowboys piggy bank. Considering what the organization did with the deals of Randall Cobb and George Iloka as well in free agency, the front office is finding value for pennies on the dollar.
What can’t be taken for granted either is the high level of production Quinn has had when you really breakdown the numbers. He has 69 sacks in eight seasons, an average of just under nine per year, but let’s peel back the numbers even further. He’s missed the equivalent of about one season due to injuries. Now, an average season from Quinn when healthy means he would be close to 80 sacks right now without any setbacks. Oh, and did I mention that he won’t be 30 for another year? Safe to say, there’s plenty of miles left on this vehicle.
He’s joining a top seven defense from a year ago, with a great mix of youth and experience. The hope here is that he can regain his Pro Bowl level of production from 2014, and simultaneously make himself and DeMarcus Lawrence one of the top pass-rushing combinations in the league.