Free Agent Pitch Reunites Bears With Record-Setting Edge Rusher

Getty Defensive end Robert Quinn, formerly of the Philadelphia Eagles, rushes the passer during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in October 2022.

The Chicago Bears just watched one of their former edge defenders in Leonard Floyd sign with a new team, but a reunion with a different ex-pass rusher remains possible.

Chicago traded away record-setting defensive end Robert Quinn to the Philadelphia Eagles last October in return for a fourth-round pick that turned into rookie wide receiver Tyler Scott. Now a free agent, Alex Shapiro of NBC Sports Chicago on Monday, June 5, floated the idea of the Bears bringing the three-time Pro-Bowl pass rusher back to the roster.

“Everyone in the Bears locker room loves Robert Quinn. He brought tangible veteran leadership to the team, so for that reason alone the Bears might want to bring him back,” Shapiro wrote. “However, Quinn was ‘highly upset’ when he was traded last year, so he may not want to return. In 2021, Quinn set a Bears record with 18.5 sacks, but his production dropped sharply last year. He only managed one sack in 13 games.”

Robert Quinn Fits With Bears Defense on Cheaper Contract

Robert Quinn

GettyDefensive end Robert Quinn, formerly of the Chicago Bears, watches action during a preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks in August 2022.

General manager Ryan Poles explained the thinking behind dealing Quinn during an interview ahead of the 2022 trade deadline.

“On the business side, it just made too much sense for what we’re trying to do. It’s going to allow us to continue to build a highly competitive roster,” Poles said, per Larry Mayer of “For the future, I think it’s going to give us the ability to continue to grow and build our foundation.”

The issue wasn’t Quinn’s production following a second-team All-Pro season in 2021, but rather his contract. Chicago signed him to a five-year, $70 million deal in 2020. Moving Quinn to the Eagles helped the Bears clear the most salary cap space in the league heading into this offseason. Somewhat ironically, though, Poles has yet to use any of that cash to add a legitimate edge rusher to a defense that arguably needs two.

As a 33-year-old free agent entering his 13th NFL season, Quinn is unlikely to command anywhere near $70 million on the open market. As Shapiro noted, the defensive end was displeased that Poles shipped him out of Chicago. However, a reunion makes sense at the right number if Quinn can forgive and/or forget how his 2.5-year tenure with the Bears ended.

“I’m not walking into this building thinking about being somewhere else,” Quinn told Jason Lieser of the Chicago Sun-Times in October 2022. “I don’t want to walk in being a fake, acting like I want to be here but really I don’t. I’m here, and I’m as happy as I can be.”

Yannick Ngakoue, Frank Clark Remain Free Agent Options for Bears

Yannick Contender Bears1

GettyFormer Indianapolis Colts defensive end Yannick Ngakoue says he wants to join a “contender” for the 2023 season.

Chicago’s only significant signing at defensive end this offseason came in the form of DeMarcus Walker who had a career high seven sacks for the Tennessee Titans last year but hasn’t been a prolific pass rusher, tallying just 19.5 sacks total across six professional seasons.

The Bears still have nearly $32.6 million in salary cap space, and Poles has been clear that a pass rusher remains a priority. Other options like Yannick Ngakoue or Frank Clark remain available in free agency, though they are each considerably younger than Quinn and are likely to cost more annually.

Ngakoue has also made it clear he wants to play for a “contender” this upcoming season, which might exclude the Bears depending on his opinion of their rebuild.

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