Robert Quinn used to be one of the top pass rushers in the NFL. But after three years of inconsistent play and multiple injuries, the Los Angeles Rams are trading the two-time Pro Bowler to the Dolphins after seven seasons, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The Rams get Miami’s 2018 fourth-round pick and sixth-round pick, and they’ll send their sixth-rounder to the Dolphins with Quinn. The trade won’t be official until the new league year begins on March 14.
Why did the Rams trade Quinn? Quinn, 27, is still a productive player, but he hasn't consistently performed up to the four-year, $66.5 million extension he signed in 2014. Before he signed that huge deal, he was a fourth-year player with 34.5 career sacks and eight forced fumbles. Quinn accumulated 19 sacks and forced seven fumbles in 2013, which led to the extension.
In 2014, Quinn performed up to that lucrative extension — racking up 10.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, and a second consecutive Pro Bowl nod. After two dominant years, his production slipped due to injuries.
Quinn only missed one game during his first four years in the NFL. However, he missed 15 games over the next two seasons. In 2015, he missed eight games due to knee, hip, and back injures before being placed on injured reserve in December 2015 to undergo back surgery.
But the injury bug was well-acquainted with Quinn in 2016. He missed nine games due to a shoulder injury and a concussion. Once again, he was placed on injured reserve late in the season.
Quinn nearly returned to form under new head coach Sean McVay, compiling 8.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in 15 games. Wade Phillips, the Rams' defensive coordinator, incorporated a 3-4 scheme, so Quinn had to convert from defensive end to linebacker.
Quinn may never return to the player he used to be. He's still young player, but the Rams couldn't afford to keep him around under his current contract. According to sportrac.com, Quinn was scheduled to make over $10.3 million in 2018 and over $11.8 million in 2019, which would have been the last year of his contract. He carried nearly a $12.4 million cap hit in 2018.
What's next for the Rams? Since the Rams are in the midst of a successful youth movement, they could elect to draft a younger linebacker to fill Quinn's shoes, or they could sign one in free agency.
The Rams could also go to an in-house player to compete for that starting role. Carlos Thompson, 26, served as Quinn's backup and is a player to look out for in 2018. Los Angeles could also thrust Samson Ebukam, a fourth-round pick in 2017, into that starting role. Ebukam collected 31 tackles, two sacks, and a forced fumble in 16 games. All in all, the Rams can go in many directions to replace Quinn.
What’s next for the Dolphins? Cameron Wake led the team with 10.5 sacks last year, more than a third of the Dolphins’ total pass-rushing production. Quinn had 8.5 sacks over 15 games in 2014 for the Rams, so he should instantly make Miami’s pass rush better. But the Dolphins may need to add a run-stopping defensive end still.
The one sticking point is that this puts Jarvis Landry’s status in question. Landry would be owed almost $17 million if he plays under the tag this year, and the Dolphins are already in the red with the salary cap. Landry was already reported to be on the trading block. It’s possible that the Dolphins will rescind Landry’s tag and let him hit free agency now that they’ve got Quinn and his $11.4 million cap hit on their books for this year.
What's next for Quinn? Quinn, a 2011 first-round pick, may just need a change of scenery to return to form. The Dolphins weren’t the only team that was interested in a player with 62.5 sacks and 20 forced fumbles so far in his seven-year career. The Chiefs also tried to bring in Quinn as part of the Marcus Peters trade:
At one point, the #Chiefs were pushing to trade for DE Robert Quinn, along with a draft pick. But sounds like now it’ll be just draft picks going over to KC for Marcus Peters.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 23, 2018
Quinn has a viable skill set as an edge rusher. He has tons of moves in his pass-rushing arsenal, and he has a knack for getting to the quarterback with ease.
However, Quinn struggles against the run, only averaging 31.1 tackles in his career. He joins a Dolphins team that ranked 26th in the league last year with just 30 sacks. The Dolphins are better against the run and ranked No. 14 after allowing 110.4 yards per game.
Quinn’s particular strengths should be an asset for the Dolphins.