Shape up or get shipped out.
It happened to Robert Quinn once, dealt from the Miami Dolphins to the Dallas Cowboys this offseason. And it will happen again if the veteran defensive end doesn’t get his you-know-what together upon returning from NFL suspension in Week 3.
But, hey, don’t take my word for it …
“He better bring a f**kin’ lot, knowing that this team (the Dolphins) just traded him to us,” Cowboys star DeMarcus Lawrence warned Wednesday, via The Athletic. “Sh*t, that would sit heavy on my heart, basically saying I’m not good enough to be on your team.”
Indeed, the tanking Dolphins, led by a defensive-minded rookie head coach, sent Quinn to Dallas for a 2020 sixth-round draft pick. This, after the Rams traded him to Miami in 2018.
Quinn was hit with a two-game regular season suspension on Aug. 8 for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. The 29-year-old’s ban, he claimed, stemmed from anti-seizure medication and was chalked up to a pharmaceutical error.
The NFL determined the medication — probenecid — was being used as a masking agent, possibly for steroids.
“Our expert provided a great analogy here: Imagine a bag of rice with thousands of kernels. The level of probenecid in Rob’s system was equivalent to 1 kernel of rice in a bag among thousands,” Quinn’s agent, Sean Kiernan, wrote last month.
“I’ve been working with NFL players for 20 years, and I can’t think of a situation where I’ve been personally involved where the league was as tone deaf as it was here. Now, Rob will be punished for something that would have been impossible for him to prevent, and even though the NFL admitted during the hearing that it did not believe Rob was intentionally doping, they still suspended him.”
After learning of his punishment, the Cowboys stood by Quinn, hoping to eventually squeeze production from the two-time Pro Bowl pass-rusher.
“We trust Robert Quinn and we support him 100 percent. We can’t wait to get him back,” head coach Jason Garrett said on Aug. 8.
A 2011 first-round selection, Quinn has logged 200 tackles, 69 sacks, 22 forced fumbles and 17 pass deflections across eight professional seasons — seven with the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams (2011-17) and one with Miami.
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Get in Where You Fit in
Once his suspension concludes, Quinn will join an ultra-deep group of defensive linemen. Dallas is set with Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford as its starting DEs, and sports Kerry Hyder, Dorance Armstrong and Taco Charlton as the primary backups. The team also has, to some extent, Randy Gregory, who was suspended indefinitely earlier this year.
Quinn, assuming he’s active, will boost a Cowboys unit that notched just two sacks on Eli Manning in Week 1. The team faces fellow stone-footed quarterback Case Keenum in Week 2 before hosting Quinn’s former employer in Week 3. Talk about delightful irony.
Taco to Go?
Quinn’s impending return aligns with the possible departure of 2017 first-round choice Taco Charlton, who’s reportedly being dangled in trade talks, the Cowboys targeting an unnamed player-for-player swap.
Provided they find a taker for Taco and agree to the compensation, Dallas would essentially break even ($1.376 million in savings, $1.358 million in dead money) by shipping him elsewhere. But it’d be welcome news for Quinn, if his aim is to appease Lawrence — which, in turn, would appease those who sign his checks.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL