The Chicago Bears wouldn’t dream of letting their sack leader, Robert Quinn, walk — would they?
Quinn finished second in the NFL in 2021 with 18.5 sacks, which also set the team’s new single-season franchise record, but one Bears beat writer doesn’t have the veteran pass rusher making the team’s 53-man roster.
Citing Quinn’s recent unexcused absence from mandatory veteran minicamp, Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic, who is extremely tuned in to the team, thinks it’s likely the Bears move on from Quinn, one way or another.
“After Quinn’s absence from mandatory veteran minicamp, it’s tough to feel confident he’s going to be on this roster at the start of the season,” Fishbain wrote on June 22. “Quinn missing minicamp allows for speculation that he might not want to be the veteran on a team in transition. With recency bias on our side, Quinn doesn’t make this 53-man roster projection.”
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Young Players Have Been Stepping Up in Quinn’s Absence
If the Bears do trade Quinn — which is by far the likeliest scenario — Fishbain, who was present at the team’s June 14-16th minicamp as well as earlier offseason practices, thinks Chicago’s young past rushers could very well step up.
So far this summer, the Bears have seen third-year pass rusher Trevis Gipson and rookies Dominique Robinson and Carson Taylor make plays in Quinn’s absence. There’s also veteran Al-Quadin Muhammad, who has yet to practice with the team, but he has experience playing in new head coach Matt Eberflus’ defensive scheme and is expected to be a valuable contributor.
“Gipson, Robinson and Taylor took advantage of their reps in minicamp, and Muhammad was out with an undisclosed injury,” Fishbain added. “Should the Bears move on from Quinn, they might want to add another edge rusher to compete. Charles Snowden could also be a factor in deciding how this position shakes out.”
Taylor, an undrafted edge rusher out of Northern Arizona, impressed the team enough at Chicago’s rookie minicamp to earn a free agent deal. He has continued to impress after that:
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Bears Could Save Big Money By Moving on From Quinn
Quinn inked a five-year, $70 million contract with the Bears in 2020, and he has three years left on that deal. He’s due a hefty $17.1 million this season, and should the Bears decide to cut him, they would eat dead cap hits of $4.2 million this year and $8.5 million in 2024. Ultimately, releasing the 32-year-old defender would save Chicago $39.9 million over the next few seasons (numbers via Spotrac).
While it would be a huge shock to see new general manager Ryan Poles cut Quinn, if the Bears can’t get the trade value they want for him, anything is possible. Eberflus clearly wasn’t happy about Quinn being absent from mandatory camp, and Aaron Wilson reported Quinn isn’t happy in the Windy City.
“Obviously, we hoped he would be here. He’s not,” Eberflus said about Quinn on June 14, noting Poles would ultimately handle the situation. “Ryan and his staff are going to work through that. I really don’t have any other comment other than that about Robert Quinn.”
That doesn’t sound great.
In addition to the 18.5 sacks, Quinn finished with 49 total tackles last season (17 for loss), 22 QB hits and four forced fumbles. Those are impressive numbers, which is why finding a trade partner for Quinn is far more likely than the Bears cutting him. Still, his situation bears watching and remains one of the team’s more compelling storylines heading into training camp.