LA Rams should reunite with 102-sack edge rushers

LA Rams general manager Les Snead has so far taken a vow of fasting during NFL Free Agency 2023, but his period of inactivity should be coming to an end. Snead can spring into action during the second wave of the Veteran Market by offering a short-term and team-friendly deal to a familiar face.

Free agent defensive end Robert Quinn hasn’t played 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 put constant pressure on quarterbacks, evidenced by a modest 38 sacks in the 2022 NFL season.

Reaching the passer is a talent Quinn never lost, 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 in October, but that doesn’t have to stop the Rams from exploring a potential reunion.

Quinn still makes sense for the Rams as he fits into a hybrid 3-4 defense. He competed in that system for the Bears when Quinn posted a franchise-record 18.5 sacks in 2021. LA Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris follows the same scheme, but he lacks quality edge rushers.

The problem was compounded by Snead cutting Rams full-back Leonard Floyd and his team-leading nine sacks this offseason. It was one of several necessary cost-cutting measures, which also included the Rams trading cornerback Jalen Ramsey with the Miami Dolphins and firing middle linebacker Bobby Wagner.

Those moves helped the Rams create $11,257,346 worth of space under the salary cap, according to Such a character looked like the stuff dreams are made of before the free hand began, but Snead was ruthless in his approach to freeing up some funds. Now some of the money should be used to sign a proven company like Quinn.

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Things didn’t pan out with the Eagles, but Quinn started the 2022 season in style while still a member of the Bears. Notably, he came to Aaron Rodgers in Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers using a “ghost/rip” move highlighted by the pass rush coach Aaron Day for DLineVids:

Robert Quinn with the Ghost/Rip. Comes to Aaron Rodgers for the sack. Have a Pass Rush Plan! #passrush #dabären

— DLineVids (@dlinevids1) September 19, 2022

Still dominant in his 30s, Quinn wins more one-on-one matches than most edge rushers. As Thomas R. Petersen of Breaking the Birds pointed out that Quinn doesn’t have to rely on “coverage or “scheduled” sacks:

Robert Quinn led the league in true sack rate last season. A metric that differentiates pass rush skills from random, coverage, or planned sacks.

The absurd curve from the rim was on full display last season:#Eagle

— Thomas R. Petersen (@thomasrp93) October 26, 2022

Those same qualities helped Quinn set a one-year franchise record for the then-St. Louis Rams in 2013 when he notched 19 sacks. Quinn recorded 62.5 of his 102 QB takedowns in his career as a member of the Rams, but that didn’t stop Snead from selling the player, whom the Rams drafted 14th 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 Armando Salguerowrote for the Miami Herald at the time:

Robert Quinn isn’t thrilled with the Rams: “It’s like, this is the first time I’ve been traded. You tie yourself to someone and your family has their backs on you.”

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— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) April 4, 2018

The Rams would have to fix some fences before bringing Quinn back to LA, but the move would be worth the effort. The Morris defense needs a game destroyer on the sidelines to add to the chaos Aaron Donald is causing in the LA Rams All-Pro defense.

Quinn would provide just that, while his experience and expertise would be invaluable to a group of untried and uninspiring edge-rushers. Surely someone like LA Rams outside linebacker Justin Hollins could learn a few tricks from a pass rusher as nuanced as Quinn.

Although Quinn is 32 years old, his age doesn’t have to preclude this commitment. Yes, Snead is still working to overcome the expense of signing so many aging stars, but this time things would be different.

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Both Quinn and the Rams would know this deal is nothing more than a short-term fix. A chance for the Rams to increase their pass rush for a season or two, as well as an opportunity for Quinn to return to his prime before the Eagles.

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