First-year Bears general manager Ryan Poles has been consistent, largely bringing in new talent on affordable, one-year prove-it deals while letting the team’s more high-priced veterans walk — with Quinn being the notable exception.
In addition to his franchise-record 18.5 sacks last year, Pro Football Focus had Quinn accumulating 22 quarterback hits, 17 tackles-for-loss, 47 total pressures, 25 hurries and four forced fumbles. He frequently pestered opposing quarterbacks, and single-handedly provided the team’s pass rush for the bulk of the season.
When speaking to the media on September 1, Poles finally revealed why he and the team, led by defensive-minded head coach Matt Eberflus, elected not to trade the 32-year-old Quinn.
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Poles: Quinn Exemplifies What Eberflus Likes in His Defensive Players
The Bears general manager once again said that those who are referring to the changes the team is making as elements of a “rebuild” aren’t necessarily correct in that assessment.
“There’s, I think, a misconception: ‘Tear this down and rebuild it all.’ It’s not that,” Poles said when asked why he elected not to trade Quinn. “There’s also a feel for the room. How can you make the room better? How can you stay productive and win ballgames? I think he (Quinn) helps us with that.”
Poles is correct. Quinn was ranked No. 48 on the NFL’s annual Top 100 players list last year, with his 18.5 sacks ranking second in the league behind T.J. Watt of the Pittsburgh Steelers. If he can be half as productive in Eberflus’ defense as he was in 2021, his production will be helpful. There’s also no doubt the 11-year vet’s experience will be beneficial to young players like fifth-round rookie Dominique Robinson and third-year pass rusher Trevis Gipson.
“I’m a huge fan of Robert Quinn,” Poles added. “He’s been productive. He’s one of those examples of what Matt wants to see out of his defense with being relentless, high motor. That’s that guy. He’s another leader in the room who can show the young guys the way.”
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Quinn Has Always Said He Wants to Stay in Chicago
For his part, Quinn hasn’t waivered: While he understands football is a business and he could be traded at any time, he has maintained that he’d like to play out the remainder of his five-year, $70 million contract in the Windy City.
“You can’t play this game if you’re not happy to be here because it’s one of the roughest games out there,” Quinn said at training camp in July, via the team’s official website. “Every day you’ve got to buy in to be able to give the best of yourself. That’s all I’m trying to do every time I step into the building. I’m just trying to bring the best version of myself.”
That’s what Poles and company are counting on.