DALLAS — The Miami Dolphins and the Dallas Cowboys made a trade Thursday that sent defensive end Robert Quinn to the NFC East for a 2020 sixth-round pick.
The Cowboys acquire a two-time Pro Bowler and one-time first-team All-Pro selection that gives them options along the defensive line.
With the NFL suspending defensive end Randy Gregory indefinitely, Quinn provides another reliable option alongside Pro Bowl defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence to rush the passer from the outside.
Gregory had six sacks in 14 games in 2018, while Quinn, in his first year with the Dolphins, produced 6.5 sacks in 16 games. The production is virtually the same. In fact, Quinn collected nine tackles for loss; Gregory with seven. The two defensive ends even amassed the same number of quarterback hits with 15.
Quinn turn 29 on May 18, and will enter his ninth season in the NFL. The former 14th overall pick for the St. Louis Rams in 2011 is still in a productive phase of his career. Certainly he won't accrue double-digit sacks for the Cowboys on his one-year contract, but he can prove to be a reliable option to replace Gregory.
Another theory is that Dallas brought in Quinn to replace Lawrence, as the Cowboys currently applied the franchise tag to the two-time Pro Bowler with the intent to sign him to a long-term deal.
As discussed previously, the Cowboys are using the franchise tag as an extension of sorts to expand the window for negotiation. The real deadline as it related to the franchise tag is July 15 at 3:00 p.m. Central Time. After that point, the tag sticks and the two sides cannot negotiate a long-term deal until the end of the season.
As the Cowboys have extended the negotiating window, so have the two sides grown apart. Facing the prospects of a locker room leader turning against the team, the conventional approach is to deal Lawrence for a cache of draft picks in the 2019 NFL draft. If Dallas can get a first-rounder out of the process, that will ensure the club won't be absent from the prime time portion of the draft for the first time since its 2010 inception.
For Lawrence and every other player facing the prospect of playing under the franchise tag, it isn't so much about the money as it is the security of being a part of a team's plans long-term.
When the Cowboys and Lawrence reach an agreement in that regard, the acrimony from the contract negotiations will dissipate, much like how the threat of asphyxiation instantly leaves when the boot gets off one's throat. Just ask the Joneses and Emmitt Smith if they're still sour over his contract situation that forced him to miss two games to start 1993.
Where Quinn is really "an option for Lawrence" is when it comes to the former 2014 second-round pick's recovery from shoulder surgery. Lawrence tore his labrum in October, but elected to play through it rather than have season-ending surgery. The longer the offseason drags on with Lawrence not having that surgery, the more the rehabilitation will affect his attendance in training camp, the preseason, and possibly the regular season.
If the Cowboys find themselves in a situation where they have to start out Lawrence on the physically unable to perform list and it sticks after the cut down to 53 players, Dallas won't have his services for the first six games. It sure would be nice to have a proven veteran pass-rusher on hand to bridge those first six weeks that you don't have your war daddy.
If Dallas manages to get through the Lawrence negotiations unscathed in terms of retaining all of his playing time, and at a high level, somehow Gregory slips out of indefinite suspension, and Quinn is a credible part of the pass-rush, watch out.
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