After the head-scratching signing of tight end Jimmy Graham, the Chicago Bears made another deal that brought smiles on the fans’ faces. The team reportedly signed outside linebacker Robert Quinn. The deal is for 5 years, $70 million and $30 million guaranteed.
The Bears now have two premier pass rushers on their defense. Khalil Mack, the highest-paid defender in the NFL, is about to play in his third season as a Bear. Now he’s teamed with another elite pass rusher.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 17, 2020
Mack has to be flying high with happiness. The Bears felt that Mack and Leonard Floyd would be a tremendous combination but Floyd only recorded seven sacks in his two seasons playing alongside Mack. Quinn had 11.5 sacks by himself in 2019.
With Floyd failing to require a double team from opponents, and with defensive lineman Akiem Hicks hurt through most of the season, Mack faced double and sometimes triple teams all season long. He had to run through a wall of humanity to get to the quarterback. His sack total dropped to eight, his lowest total since his rookie season. Despite that, he finished second in the NFL in quarterback hurries.
Now with Quinn aboard Mack’s sack totals can go up to the totals we’re used to seeing.
Because of the move, the Bears will release Floyd on Wednesday, March 18th, when the new season officially begins.
Just before the 2018 season, the Bears acquired Mack in a trade with the Oakland (now Las Vegas) Raiders and signed him to a 6-year, $141 million extension with $90 million guaranteed. For that amount of investment, the Bears had to make sure he succeeds in Chicago. This signing assures that happens.
Quinn was the St. Louis (now Los Angeles) Rams’ first-round pick (14th overall) in the 2011 draft. He moved on to the Miami Dolphins in 2018 but they traded him to the Dallas Cowboys before the 2019 season. There he flourished, recording 34 tackles (13 for loss), 11.5 sacks, 22 quarterback hits, and 2 forced fumbles. He was one of the most pursued free-agent pass rushers in this year’s free agency frenzy.
Signing helps out a number of positions
Part of Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace’s thinking about Trubisky wasn’t just to improve the offense around him (he has yet to do that) but to also strengthen an already elite defense. Despite finishing just 8-8 in 2019, the defense ranked fourth in points allowed, even with all the injuries they suffered. They finished first in 2018 and want to get back up there in 2020.
Opposing teams now have to pick their poison on who to key in on. Now the Bears don’t have a weakness on the other side of Mack so the sack total out of their pass rushers should go up.
The Quinn signing also helps the rest of the defense. If Mack and Quinn do what they usually do, it helps Hicks get to the quarterback. The improved pass rush helps the Bears’ secondary. Opposing quarterbacks will have to throw earlier than they want, and that hopefully create turnover opportunities. That is what helped the defense in 2018 when they recorded 50 sacks and 47 turnovers.
The Bears had a big decision to make on Floyd and now they’ve made it. With this signing, they don’t have to go out and fill the need for a starter. They can now look for added depth since Aaron Lynch is also a free agent. Look for them to draft someone in the middle rounds and perhaps use Joel Iyiegbuniwe more than just a special teamer.
It’ll be interesting to see what other moves Pace has for free agency.