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The Dallas Cowboys most underrated offseason acquisition: Robert Quinn

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What will Quinn bring to the Dallas defense?

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NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Miami Dolphins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

One of the more underrated moves of the Dallas Cowboys’ offseason was trading for defensive end Robert Quinn. Dallas was able to acquire Quinn for virtually nothing, giving Miami back just a 2020 sixth-round pick in the deal.

Quinn has been one of the most consistent pass rushers in the NFL since 2013. According to Pro Football Focus pass-rush grades, Quinn has never graded below a 62.0 in his career.

In 2013 with the then St. Louis Rams, Quinn had one of the best seasons ever by a pass-rusher. He recorded 19.0 sacks and seven forced fumbles to go with 57 total tackles and a league-leading 23 tackles for loss. Quinn was so good that year that he recorded the highest-graded season by an edge-rusher in the PFF era.

Quinn followed up his out of this world 2013 season with another solid year in 2014. His sack numbers dropped from 19.0 to 10.5, and he recorded 10 fewer tackles for loss from 23 to 13, but it would have been unreasonable to believe he could keep up his 2013 production two seasons in a row. After the 2014 season, Quinn signed a four-year $57.01 million dollar extension with the Rams, making him one of the highest paid pass-rushers in all of football.

Despite not reproducing his All-Pro year in 2013, Quinn still was one of the best pass rushers in all of football. He had made back-to-back Pro Bowls and recorded double-digit sacks in three straight seasons, but then injuries took a toll on his career.

From 2015-2017 he was only able to play in 32 of the Rams 48 games and recorded fewer sacks during this three-year period at 17.0 than he did in one season in 2013. Quinn’s career was at a crossroads, and despite still being able to make some plays when healthy like the one shown below, a change needed to be made.

A scheme change in Los Angeles and Quinn’s inability to stay healthy led him to be traded to the Miami Dolphins for a fourth- and sixth-round pick in March of 2018. Some believed a change of scenery would help the former All-Pro regain his old form, and despite not coming close to his production a few years back, Quinn did have a solid year in Miami.

He was able to play in all 16 games of a season for just the third time in his career and finished the year with 38 total tackles, nine tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, and 15 QB hits. Quinn finished with a pass-rush grade from Pro Football Focus of 73.2 last season. No Cowboys edge-defender besides DeMarcus Lawrence finished with a grade above 70.

Quinn made his money by rushing the quarterback, but he is not half-bad at stopping the run as well. In 2018 he recorded 16 runs stops which was 27th out of 108 edge defenders that qualified. Dallas had just two edge-defenders record 10 or more run stops last season, DeMarcus Lawrence and Taco Charlton.

Here is a video from 2018 of Quinn’s work in stopping the run.

With the Cowboys, Quinn likely will be asked to produce the stats of currently suspended defensive end Randy Gregory. In 2018, Gregory recorded 25 total tackles, seven tackles for loss, and 6.0 sacks. I think it is more than fair to assume that Quinn can match, or even surpass, those numbers in 2019 (assuming Gregory doesn’t return).

With 10 defensive ends and seven defensive tackles on the current roster, the rotation of rushers will keep Quinn fresh. Tyrone Crawford, and Kerry Hyder Jr. can play inside and out on the defensive line, which will allow Dallas to save Quinn at times for big-time pass-rush situations.

Despite having an eight-year NFL career, Quinn is still just 29 years old. With Dallas having the ability to keep him fresh and ready to rush the passer, his production has a chance to elevate past what he has done in the past few seasons. It’s not out of the question that Quinn could record double-digit sacks in 2019, and if does, the Dallas defense likely will be one of the best in the league.