The Minnesota Vikings already have the most prolific edge-rusher of the season on their roster in Danielle Hunter, but doubling-down on strength is rarely a poor decision.
Former Chicago Bears pass-rusher Robert Quinn remains a free agent and is the type of veteran whose value might outpace his cost down the back half of playoff run. That is the premise behind a free agent pitch authored by Adam Carlson of The Viking Age on Thursday, November 9.
Robert Quinn has been to the Pro Bowl three times and has recorded double-digit sacks in five of his 12 seasons as a pro, proving he can be productive in the right situations. … He had knee surgery last year, but returned to the field for the Super Bowl with the [Philadelphia] Eagles.
Quinn would likely be a one-year rental for the Minnesota Vikings because of the team’s salary cap situation and his age, but there is no doubt that he could be a high-profile backup or rotational pass-rusher in an aggressive Brian Flores defense.
Robert Quinn Finished Second in NFL in Sacks 2 Seasons Ago
Quinn is 33 years old and has 12 years of experience in the NFL. Over the course of that run, he has tallied 102 total sacks, per Pro Football Reference.
Nearly 20% of those sacks came in 2021, while Quinn was a member of the Bears. He finished that season with 18.5 sacks, which was second in the NFL behind only T.J. Watt of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The following season ushered in a new management regime in Chicago, as Ryan Poles took the GM job and hired head coach Matt Eberflus. Talk of trading Quinn began soon thereafter, and the Bears eventually dealt the veteran to Philadelphia for a fourth-round pick.
Quinn played seven games last year in Chicago, tallying one sack. He did not register a sack in six games with the Eagles. That said, Quinn is less than two years removed from the second-most productive season of his career. He is presumably healthy and looking for another shot in the NFL.
The Bears signed Quinn to a five-year, $70 million contract in March 2020, though he would not command anywhere near that kind of money on a half-season rental at this stage of his career. Minnesota currently has around $8 million in available salary cap space.
Robert Quinn Offers Vikings Injury Insurance for Playoff Run
Minnesota traded Za’Darius Smith, Hunter’s pass-rushing partner in 2022, to the Cleveland Browns during the offseason. The team signed free agent Marcus Davenport to replace Smith, but injuries have plagued him all year.
Davenport is on IR with an ankle sprain and won’t be eligible to return to the lineup until after the matchup with the New Orleans Saints this coming weekend. He has played in four games since signing a one-year, $13 million contract to join the Vikings and has tallied 2 sacks.
Minnesota is tied for 13th in the NFL with 24 sacks, though the team has yet to reach its bye week, which could drive that ranking lower. Hunter is responsible for 10 sacks on his own, a mark which leads the league. Outside linebacker D.J. Wonnum, who has stepped into a starting role in Davenport’s absence, has been solid with 10 QB hits and 4 sacks of his own.
However, the position still lacks depth in light of Davenport’s injury. Pat Jones II and undrafted rookie Andre Carter II are the only other edge-rushers on the active roster, according to Minnesota’s official depth chart. They have zero sacks between them on the season.
Quinn can add depth to the Vikings roster if he is, in fact, back to full health. The injury insurance he can offer at a premium position, plus a couple of timely sacks in big games that help Minnesota earn a spot in the playoffs, should be more than enough value at a few million dollars down the stretch of the season.