by Evan Bruner
Fresh off a big win on Monday Night Football, Ryan Poles and the Chicago Bears wasted no time getting back to work, trading veteran pass rusher Robert Quinn to the Philadelphia Eagles for a 2023 fourth-round pick. Quinn, who signed with the Bears in the 2020 offseason, made the Pro Bowl in 2021 after setting the franchise single-season sack record with 18.5. The Bears reportedly shopped Quinn this offseason and during training camp but didn’t find the offer they wanted. However, as the 2022 season progressed, it became more apparent that the Bears had little use for a player like Quinn.
At 32, Quinn is likely at the tail end of his prime. The Bears, on the other hand, are still in the early stages of a franchise overhaul. Signing Quinn might have made sense back when Chicago had Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks on the defensive line, but now, with the defense younger than ever, Quinn was like a fish out of water. It wasn’t just his age that became a problem, either; it was also his expected role on defense. While quite talented, Quinn is much better suited to be in a supporting role than a solo act. Playing opposite Khalil Mack in Chicago and Demarcus Lawrence in Dallas helped Quinn maximize his production. The problem is the Bears no longer have an elite counterpart to compliment Quinn, which has allowed opposing offenses to double-team him and essentially take him out of several games.
For what the Bears lack in experience on the outside, they make up for in talent and upside with players like Trevis Gipson and Dominique Robinson. Given the complexion of the Bears roster, getting young players reps to evaluate whether they have starting futures with the team is far more important to the organization than a player on the wrong side of 30 who may be out of the league in the next couple of years. With Quinn out of the way, fans should get to see more younger players in at the defensive end and outside linebacker.
The Bears also free up a good amount of cap space. While they had to eat a good chunk of Quinn’s 2022 contract to gain the fourth-round pick, Chicago is off the hook for the final two years of his initial contract, which the Eagles and Quinn mutually agreed to void. This sets Chicago up with the most cap space of any team in the NFL in the offseason. This will give the Bears opportunities to extend franchise cornerstones like Roquan Smith and Jaylon Johnson and go after premier free agents at positions of need.
On the Eagles’ side of things, the perception of this trade remains up in the air. If Quinn makes a valuable contribution and helps the Eagles make a deep playoff run, it’ll easily be worth a fourth-round pick. If he doesn’t and is let go this offseason, it won’t be. The Eagles likely knew that a fourth-round pick was higher than Quinn’s perceived market value around the league, but the rich can afford to overpay, and the Eagles are one of the most talented and draft-rich teams in football. Even if the deal doesn’t work out, it’ll be hard for fans to be mad at the front office for trying to load up as much as possible before the postseason.
Quinn’s time in Chicago was interesting, to say the least. He was a nonfactor in 2020, a star in 2021, and a disappointment in the first half of 2022. This feast or famine type of production made Quinn both frustrating and confusing. Regardless, he’s now a part of Chicago Bears’ history and likely will be for quite some time.