Dannehy: Bears Need Real Value To Trade Quinn

| June 15th, 2022

With news that Robert Quinn isn’t likely to attend the Chicago Bears mandatory camp practices, it seems likely that he would prefer to play elsewhere next season. But the Bears shouldn’t trade him unless they get equal value in return. Based on media reports and what r Ryan Poles has said, the team didn’t prioritize value when Khalil Mack was dealt. They can’t do that again.

Quinn is coming off of a season in which he broke the franchise record with 18.5 sacks, doing so as the only serious pass rush threat for much of the season. While his cap charge is currently slated to be near $18 million — fifth highest at his position — his average salary is tied for 23rd with Randy Gregory (among others). Gregory is 29. Quinn just turned 32. Gregory has fewer sacks in his career than Quinn had last season.

While moving Quinn would guarantee the team is punting on the 2022 season — a tough sell in the locker room — the Bears would save nearly $13 million in salary cap space. Had they done the trade earlier in the offseason, the cap saving was less than $4.5 million. While the free agent market is nearly depleted, the Bears could use those savings in the 2023 offseason, when Quinn’s value likely won’t be as high.

Salary cap space shouldn’t be the primary motivator to doing a deal, though.

The Bears are slated to have more cap space than they will be able to spend responsibly. The Bears need actual assets in return if they’re going to trade Quinn. The bidding should start with a second-round pick or a young player — preferably a receiver or offensive lineman. They might have to settle for a third-round pick, but beyond that, a trade isn’t worth doing at this point. While 2022 is seen as a rebuilding year, Quinn still has value to the Bears, which is why giving him away shouldn’t be an option.

Taking Quinn off the roster would leave the team with one of the worst defensive lines in the league, even if Trevis Gipson continues to break out. That would, in turn, put a young secondary in a tough position.

While it might be considered a long shot, Matt Eberflus has produced top-10 defenses with less talent than the Bears currently have. If he’s even able to crack the top-15 defensively and Justin Fields is what they hope he is, the Bears will be competing for a playoff spot. Getting in the playoffs — or near .500 — with a young team and ascending quarterback is always a major plus and can help sway free agents in 2023. It’s a lot easier to tell a free agent they’ll get the team over the top when the top is within reach.

It’s worth noting, at this point, we don’t know if Quinn actually wants out of Chicago or if he just wants to work out on his own. He was a part of Rod Marinelli’s camps in Dallas and might not want to put that stress on his body — truly a veteran move.  The Bears might be OK with that because Quinn is good at his job and already knows the system. There’s no reason he has to be there.

But if the Bears decide to pull the trigger and make a move, they have to make sure the return is actually a win for the franchise, not just the player.

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