The Chicago Bears will reportedly sign outside linebacker Robert Quinn while releasing Leonard Floyd, strengthening an already-strong defense.
The Chicago Bears haven’t yet signed a quarterback as everyone expected but they still made big waves in free agency. They reportedly signed former Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker Robert Quinn to play along with Khalil Mack. The deal is five years, $70 million with $30 million guaranteed.
The deal strengthens an already strong defense. In 2019, the Bears finished fourth in points allowed despite suffering injuries to their top starters. They also received just three sacks from Leonard Floyd, the linebacker who played opposite of Mack. His failure at rushing the passer necessitated this move.
The Bears made a big investment in not just money but also draft picks to acquire Mack. They have to make sure he succeeds. With Floyd’s pass-rushing failing (his three sacks in 2019 was his career-low) and with defensive lineman Akiem Hicks‘ injury, Mack saw constant double and triple teams. Because of that, his sack total suffered, as he recorded his lowest total since his rookie season (8.5). As a result of the signing, the Bears will release Floyd.
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Quinn recorded 11.5 sacks for the Dallas Cowboys last season. He was one of the most coveted players in free agency and it was a huge surprise that the Bears pulled the trigger on this deal.
With pending free agents Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper, the Cowboys weren’t able to tag Quinn. Dallas signed Cooper to a five-year, $100 million deal and placed the exclusive tag on Prescott (likely paying him upwards of $33 million). That didn’t leave much for Quinn and he cashed in with Chicago.
The Bears now have one of the top linebacker units in the league. In addition to Mack and Quinn, they also have Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan in the middle. This unit will create havoc all season long in 2020. Add in Hicks and opposing quarterbacks will have a tough time avoiding sacks. That, in turn, has them forcing turnovers, and it greatly helps the defense’s secondary. They are looking to get back to the 47 turnovers they forced in 2018.
The signing raised fans’ morale after waiting for the team to make a big move on the first day teams could talk to free agents. Talks were surrounding Chicago and multiple quarterbacks, but they ended up just signing tight end Jimmy Graham, a move that didn’t raise hopes. This signing was the complete opposite.
With the signings of Trevathan (age 30), Quinn (29), and Graham (33), it looks pretty clear that Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace is looking to take advantage of the window he has with this elite defense. He hasn’t made big deals for players close to the age of 30 previously. But doing so for these three players shows he feels the Bears are pretty close, especially with this great defense.
The Bears still have other holes to fill. They still need to sign a quarterback who could push or even beat out Mitchell Trubisky for the starting job. Trubisky struggled in 2019 and lost the faith of many.
The Bears also have to shore up the offensive line. The loss of Kyle Long hurt the line last season and he retired recently so they need a permanent replacement. None of the players who stepped in for him in 2019 are good enough to become starters. They need to find someone to start and others who could add depth. They also need another wide receiver and more help at tight end.
On defense, after the Bears cut cornerback Prince Amukamara they need a replacement. They also have a decision on whether to bring back safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who is a free agent himself, or replace him and move Eddie Jackson back to free safety, where he had an incredible start to his career.
It will be interesting to see what other moves Pace has for free agency. He has a habit of keeping things quiet and surprising people (both good and bad as exemplified in the last two days) in both free agency and the draft so buckle up and go for the ride.