Should Steelers target a veteran pass rusher officially on the trade block?

Robert Quinn #94 of the Chicago Bears stands on the sideline in the second quarter during the preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field on August 18, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Robert Quinn #94 of the Chicago Bears stands on the sideline in the second quarter during the preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field on August 18, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /

We know the Pittsburgh Steelers could use added depth at edge defender. Should they call the Chicago Bears about Robert Quinn? 

The massive upset win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers actually puts the Pittsburgh Steelers in a bit of a predicament. Had they lost that game, Mike Tomlin’s team would be sitting at 1-5 right now on the cusp of a rebuild. While nobody wants to see them out of the running that early in the season, more fans probably would have been willing to start making proactive moves for the future.

As it stands, however, the Steelers were able to avoid that dreaded start. While 2-4 is far from the record they wanted to hold entering Week 7 of the NFL season, Pittsburgh is surprisingly just one game back from the lead in the AFC North. The division is clearly still wide open.

Because of this, you can bet that Tomlin isn’t going to be waiving the white flag anytime soon. In the past under Kevin Colbert, the Steelers have been extremely open to trading late-round draft picks for players they believe can help them win right now. Though that philosophy may change under the direction of Omar Khan and Andy Weidl, that’s not guaranteed to be the case.

Recently, reporter Jason La Canfora confirmed that the Chicago Bears are shopping pass rusher, Robert Quinn. Meanwhile, it just so happens that the Steelers have T.J. Watt on IR and they have gotten minimal help outside of Alex Highsmith off the edge.

Should the Steelers trade for Quinn?

This is an interesting predicament. At 32 years old, it seems that Robert Quinn has taken a step back from the once elite pass rusher he used to be. Early in his career, Quinn was a First-Team All-Pro edge defender for the Rams before later finding success with the Cowboys and Bears. In 2021, Quinn earned a whopping 18.5 sacks, 17 tackles for a loss, and 22 quarterback hits en route to a Pro Bowl season, according to Pro Football Reference.

Just one year later, Quinn has only 1.0 sack through 6 games. Knowing that this Bears team isn’t going anywhere this year, they are looking to shop a veteran with quite an impressive resume.

Obviously, the Steelers wouldn’t want to overpay for Quinn’s services, as T.J. Watt is expected to return after the bye week, and Alex Highsmith is having arguably the best season of his career so far. However, there’s no question they could use an upgrade behind these two guys.

Though he has never been a great run defender, Quinn is a pass-rush specialist. At 6’4” and 245 pounds, the long-time pass rusher fits the mold of what Pittsburgh typically looks for on the edge, though Quinn has primarily played base defensive end on a 4-3 front.

Outside of a cleanup sack caused by Cameron Heyward last week, Malik Reed has offered the Steelers almost nothing as a pass rusher. Quinn still has an amazing burst and speed off the edge with remarkable bend. I have little doubt that he could improve his performance on a competent Steelers defense — especially if he’s coming in fresh as a situational pass rusher.

As it has in the past with other players, trading for Quinn would likely cost Pittsburgh a future day-three draft choice, but seeing what the Steelers got for Melvin Ingram last year, it would probably only be to the tune of a sixth-round pick.

If Khan and Weidl were to execute this trade, however, it may require them to restructure a contract, as Quinn has a $12.9 million base salary this year, via Over the Cap. After playing six games, he has a remaining base salary of roughly $8.34 million. This is somewhat manageable. The Steelers could also see if the Bears would be willing to absorb some of this.

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In the end, however, I think that trading for Quinn would be another short-sighted move for a team that certainly doesn’t have the look of a Super Bowl contender this year. Because of the state of their team, I would advise against a move like this. In fact, they may still want to consider going the other way and seeing if they can stockpile some draft capital of their own.