LA Rams' general manager Les Snead has taken a vow of fasting so far during the 2023 NFL free agency, but his period of inactivity should come to an end. Snead can spring into action during the veteran market's second wave by offering a familiar face a short-term and team-friendly deal.
Free Agent defensive end Robert Quinn hasn't suited up for the Rams since the 2017 season, but the former Philadelphia Eagles edge can still solve one of his old team's biggest problems. Namely, a struggle to generate consistent pressure on quarterbacks, evidenced by a modest 38 sacks in the 2022 NFL season.
Getting to the passer is a knack Quinn has never lost, even though his half-season with the Eagles ultimately proved fruitless. Quinn failed to register a sack in six regular-season games and two postseason contests after being traded from the Chicago Bears for a fourth-round pick back in October, but that needn't deter the Rams from exploring a possible reunion.
Quinn still makes sense for the Rams because of his fit in a hybrid 3-4 defensive front. He lined up in that system for the Bears when Quinn logged a franchise record 18.5 sacks in 2021. LA Rams' defensive coordinator Raheem Morris runs the same scheme, but he lacks quality edge-rushers.
Rams need Quinn's veteran presence
The problem was compounded by Snead cutting Rams' outside linebacker Leonard Floyd and his team-leading nine sacks this offseason. It was one of several necessary cost-cutting moves that also included the Rams trading cornerback Jalen Ramsey to the Miami Dolphins and releasing middle linebacker Bobby Wagner.
Those moves helped the Rams create $11,257,346 worth of space under the salary cap, according to Spotrac.com. Such a figure looked like the stuff dreams are made of before free agency began, but Snead has been ruthless in his approach to freeing up some funds. Now some of the cash ought to go toward signing a proven commodity like Quinn.
Things didn't work out with the Eagles, but Quinn started the 2022 season in style while still a member of the Bears. Specifically, he got to Aaron Rodgers against the Green Bay Packers in Week 1, using a "ghost/rip" move highlighted by pass-rush coach Aaron Day for DLineVids:
Still dominant in his 30s, Quinn wins more one-on-one matchups than most edge-rushers. As Thomas R. Petersen of Breaking the Birds pointed out, Quinn doesn't need to rely on "coverage, or 'schemed' sacks:
Those same qualities helped Quinn set a single-season franchise record for the then-St. Louis Rams in 2013, when he notched 19 sacks. Quinn recorded 62.5 of his 102 career QB takedowns as a member of the Rams, but that didn't stop Snead from trading the player the Rams drafted 14th overall in 2011 to the Miami Dolphins seven years later.
It was a decision that left the player more than a little unhappy, a sentiment he expressed at the time to Armando Salguero, writing then for the Miami Herald:
The Rams would have to mend some fences before they brought Quinn back to LA, but the move would be worth the effort. Morris' defense needs a game-wrecker on the edge to complement the havoc LA Rams All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald causes inside.
Quinn would provide exactly that, while his experience and know-how would be invaluable to a group of unproven and so far uninspiring edge-rushers. Certainly, somebody like LA Rams outside linebacker Justin Hollins could learn a few tricks from a pass-rusher as nuanced as Quinn.
Although Quinn is 32, his age doesn't have to preclude this signing. Yes, Snead is still working to overcome the cost of signing so many ageing stars, but things would be different this time.
Both Quinn and the Rams would know this deal is nothing more than a short-term fix. A chance for the Rams to boost their pass rush for a season or two, as well as an opportunity for Quinn to get back to his pre-Eagles best.