In our 2020 iteration of Finding Free Agents, we’ll attempt to answer three questions for each player: Why would the Seahawks be interested? What would their contract look like? What is the likelihood they reach free agency? Throughout the series, we’ll be focused on specific positions of need in Seattle: Wide receiver, tight end, offensive line and EDGE.
Death, taxes and Robert Quinn quietly producing as well as any 4-3 defensive end in the NFL.
When Quinn’s seven-year stint with the Rams came to an end after the 2017 season, he departed Los Angeles with 62.5 sacks and 68 tackles for loss. In his one season with the Dolphins, Quinn added another 6.5 sacks, but also led EDGEs in pass rush win rate (40 percent) and had a pressure rate of 12.5, per SIS. Quinn was again on the move last offseason, taking his reliable talents to the Cowboys, where he posted the fourth double-digit sack season of his career (11.5), again led all EDGEs in pass rush win rate and increased his pressure rate to 16—the highest among all EDGEs with a minimum of 350 rushes.
Quinn will hit free agency this spring, certain to produce wherever he lands next.
Why would the Seahawks be interested?
Did you read the lede? Quinn will arrive in Seattle and perform, simple as that. More specifically, Quinn has a complete skill set as a pass rusher. He still has a strong first step and get off, ahead of his age-30 season. He turns the corner dangerously when he gets a step on the opposing tackle and, as his stats show, he consistently finishes. Quinn has a power about his game, too—against both the run and pass—and could theoretically flip from side-to-side, giving the Seahawks snaps at 5-tech and LEO.
Should Seattle re-sign Jadeveon Clowney, Quinn has the speed to press the edge on the opposite side. Should the Seahawks lose Clowney and add a speed-based rusher, Quinn has the play strength to bull rush opposite a dynamic sack artist. In any offseason scenario, Quinn fits.
If Quinn were to sign with Seattle, he would likely be coming in as the second-highest paid pass rusher on the roster. Yet another reason it would be a great fit.
What would Quinn’s contract look like?
When Quinn was traded to Dallas last offseason, he and the Cowboys agreed to a new contract worth $9.2M in 2019. With incentives, the deal rose to be worth $10M and now, he will hit the open market. Last offseason, two similarly reliable veteran pass rushers signed two-year deals, and they offer solid points of comparison. Jerry Hughes landed $21.5M with $19.75M fully guaranteed to stay with the Bills, while Justin Houston signed with the Colts for $23M with $15.5M fully guaranteed. Both players have been consistent rushers for years, and were again effective in 2020.
The high percentage of those contracts’ full guarantees should be of no concern. If any team is signing Quinn to a two-year deal, he can absolutely be counted on to produce through those two years. At any figure between Hughes’ $10.75M and Houston’s $11.5M APY, Quinn would be an excellent addition to a team in need of bona fide sack artists.
Will Quinn reach free agency?
Last spring, Dallas gave defensive end Demarcus Lawrence a massive extension, and now face decisions with cornerstones Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper and Byron Jones. Even if they would be interested in a return for Quinn, the veteran should be expected to reach unrestricted free agency. In January, ESPN’s Todd Archer reported the Cowboys “are likely to lose their 2019 sack leader, defensive end Robert Quinn, to free agency.”
If that is in fact the case, the Seahawks would be wise to pursue Quinn and add an element of reliability to a pass rush that ran cold far too often in 2019.