Emma: Quinn Investment Bolsters Bears' Defense

Edge rusher Robert Quinn has agreed to a five-year deal with the Bears.

Chris Emma
March 17, 2020 - 1:34 pm

(670 The Score) With eyes in Chicago focused on the Bears' quarterback search, general manager Ryan Pace was looking elsewhere.

The Bears and free-agent pass rusher Robert Quinn agreed to a five-year, $70-million deal on Tuesday that includes $30 million guaranteed, NFL Media reported. It's all but certain to be Chicago's most lucrative contract added this offseason. In a corresponding move, the Bears released outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, their first-round pick in 2016, to clear up an additional $13.222 million in cap space.

While addressing the pass rush wasn't the Bears' most pressing need this offseason, bringing in Quinn on a major deal represents Pace doubling down on his investments in the defense.

Related: Bernstein: Ryan Pace might finally be 'all in'

Pace watched as star edge rusher Khalil Mack was held to just 8.5 sacks while drawing constant double-teams in 2019. Pace saw 2018 All-Pro cornerback Kyle Fuller record just three interceptions and 2018 All-Pro safety Eddie Jackson register two picks last season. He witnessed a Bears defense that led the NFL with 36 takeaways in 2018 force only 19 turnovers last season.

As Floyd failed to produce, Pace realized the importance of having another proven edge rusher opposite Mack and what it would mean for his defense.

Quinn generated pressure on 14 percent of his pass rushes in 2019, according to NFL Next Gen Stats, a figure that was the second-highest in the NFL. He had 49 quarterback pressures last season, which matched Mack's total in 116 fewer rush attempts.

Quinn's presence will free up Mack from the constant double-teams that he faced with Floyd rushing off the other edge and as the Bears experienced some injuries elsewhere. The Bears' vision is with Quinn being a pass rusher capable of creating consistent pressure, opposing quarterbacks will be forced into bad decisions with players like Fuller and Jackson waiting in coverage.

Signing Quinn was Pace's way of investing in every piece of the team's defense.

Floyd encountered injury troubles and was inconsistent during his four seasons in Chicago. A first-round pick in 2016, he had seven sacks over 12 games as a rookie but just 11.5 sacks over the three seasons that followed. Quinn had 11.5 sacks last season alone.

The Bears offered their support behind Floyd during his tenure but moved him into coverage more often as a true Sam linebacker in 2019. There's value in what his size brought at the Sam position, but it wasn't worth the $13.222 million that Floyd was due on his fifth-year option in 2020. 

Quinn and Mack now have their contracts in lockstep, with each pass rusher under team control for the next five seasons. Jackson also has five years remaining on his deal after signing an extension in January. Defensive lineman Eddie Goldman and linebacker Danny Trevathan are locked in for three more years. Linebacker Roquan Smith and defensive lineman Akiem Hicks each have two years remaining on their deals.

The Bears have their core set on defense. Now, they'll turn their attention to finding a veteran quarterback to compete with Mitchell Trubisky. The market is moving quickly, which means Pace must act soon. 

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.