Apparently, the sides have developed a mutual understanding. Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network recently reported that Jones will work diligently to retain the 29-year-old pass-rusher, and Quinn himself prefers to don the star in 2020.
“Robert Quinn is a free agent come March, but if the Dallas Cowboys have their way, he may not hit the market,” Pauline wrote. “I’m told Jerry Jones has been aggressive in letting Quinn know that he wants the pass rusher to be playing in a Cowboys uniform next year. I’m also told Quinn’s preference is to remain in Dallas. If Dallas makes Quinn a competitive offer, don’t expect him to leave town next season.”
Quinn was a revelation in his first season with the Cowboys, arriving via an offseason trade with the Miami Dolphins. Despite serving a two-game suspension to kick off the 2019 campaign, he delivered a team-high 11.5 sacks, second-most of his nine-year career, dwarfing the production of $105 million defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence (five sacks). Quinn chipped in 34 tackles and two forced fumbles for good measure.
It’s important that Jones comes through here, considering the Cowboys currently do not have a starting DE — Lawrence’s bookend — under contract. All of Quinn, Tyrone Crawford, and Michael Bennett, a midseason addition, are heading to unrestricted free agency, which begins March 18. Even backup DE Kerry Hyder is a UFA, and so are defensive tackles Maliek Collins, Antwaun Woods and Christian Covington.
The Cowboys are expected to boast over $81 million in salary-cap space, more than enough to keep Quinn in tow while locking down self-admitted top priorities Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper, and perhaps cornerback Byron Jones, whom Pauline reports is being courted hard by the Philadelphia Eagles.
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McClay Addresses Defensive Line, Tips Hand on Plan
With so many defensive linemen slated to hit the open market, Dallas is stuck between a rock and a hard place: Bring back the incumbents or look out-of-house for their replacements?
Head coach Mike McCarthy has confirmed the club largely will remain in a 4-3 scheme under new coordinator Mike Nolan. This system calls for hefty space-eaters along the interior, which Dallas lacks at the moment. Vice president of player personnel Will McClay, however, cryptically teased that may soon change.
“At the end of the day we’re going to stay within the same scheme. And we’re going to do things a little bit different,” McClay said Wednesday at the Senior Bowl, via Blogging The Boys. “So our job is to go and evaluate all of the players. They might want bigger interior players, so, that’s fine, we’ll go and look for that. But I think we’re going to be looking for the same type players.”
To do the trick, the Cowboys might opt to re-sign the 310-pound Woods or 308-pound Collins. They, too, are in a prime position to select South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw — one of the best DL prospects in the upcoming draft, standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 315 pounds — with the No. 17 overall pick.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL