PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Eagles sent a message to the rest of the league when they acquired veteran defensive end Robert Quinn from the Chicago Bears: 6-0 is a good start, but they’re coming for everything.
They didn’t really need another pass rusher. They were one of the most disruptive units in the NFL with 17 sacks and 39 quarterback hits. The front office splashed big on Haason Reddick (4.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles) in free agency, signing him to a three-year, $45 million deal, and got strong production from veterans Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham, who have three sacks and seven QB hits apiece.
But opportunities like the one in front of the Eagles don’t come around very often. They are 6-0 for only the third time in franchise history and the first time since 2004 when they qualified for the Super Bowl. Quarterback Jalen Hurts not only plays at MVP level, but does so on a rookie contract, allowing the team to spread the money around the roster.
“I think the weather is changing, but we’re not in terms of goals and what we want to achieve,” Hurts said. “I think we have a very tight-knit group, a very family group. I know [Quinn] has a lot of experience. He did that. I am delighted to have a player like him in the team.
The Eagles still have the fourth-largest 2022 cap space in the league after the Quinn acquisition, according to Spotrac, at just over $9 million. If they want to add more pieces before Tuesday’s trade deadline — secondary, running back and returner are areas that could use some extra help — they can. And with Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Aaron Rodgers’ Green Bay Packers off to a slow start, no NFC juggernaut stands in their way.
The established players in the locker room seem to sense the opportunity at hand and Quinn is welcomed with open arms – even by those who could theoretically feel threatened by the acquisition.
“When I was younger, I was like, ‘What does this mean? Are they trying to get rid of me? I don’t think we have that feeling,'” Graham said. by the way, it’s one of those feelings where all you need is some coins and we can probably make this race for real. … I hope he comes in and can be that supplement we need.
Graham was one of the first players to welcome Quinn to his locker room when he arrived at the practice facility on Thursday.
“He’s one of the leaders on this team and he’s a year or two ahead of me,” Quinn said. “Having the OG of the team approach me makes you feel appreciated, trying to make you feel welcome. I appreciated that.
This move isn’t exactly the equivalent of pushing all of their chips into the center of the table — they gave up a fourth-round pick for Quinn and the Bears are absorbing the bulk of his 2022 salary, a source confirmed. league – but the Eagles are certainly upping the ante.
There are legitimate reasons to do so. For one, their defensive depth was a bit lacking after Derek Barnett suffered a season-ending ACL tear in Game 1 against the Detroit Lions. Graham is 34 years old and is coming out of an Achilles rupture. Adding Quinn to a group that was carried by Graham and Josh Sweat will reduce the mileage for each of them and allow them to be fresher in the later stages of the season.
The Eagles believe Quinn, a Chicago team captain, will be an asset in the locker room, according to league sources. They have done their homework on this front. Graham pointed out that sports performance director Ted Rath was on the Los Angeles Rams staff when Quinn was around and singing his praises. Former defensive end Chris Long, likewise, was Quinn’s teammate on the Rams and spoke in equally glowing terms, right tackle Lane Johnson said.
“He’s a great player,” Johnson said. “You can’t have enough good passers. Him and Sweat on one side and Haason and BG on the other with the guys in the middle, it’s going to be a tough task to block all those guys.
With all that talent up front, the Eagles don’t think he’ll see as many double teams as he did in Chicago, according to a league source, which should help his production increase (he has a bag on the season).
“I just want to come in and do my part. They tipped before I got here so I don’t want to spoil anything, I’m just trying to add whatever I can to help make this team better and stay out,” Quinn said.
Quinn generated 18.5 sacks last season. A takeover might be far-fetched, but as the remarkable play of newcomers Reddick, James Bradberry, CJ Gardner-Johnson, AJ Brown and Kyzir White shows, Philadelphia has proven adept at acclimating players to their system quickly and to their culture.
While the conference may be down overall, the NFC East is up, with the New York Giants (6-1) and Dallas Cowboys (5-2) hot on the heels of the Eagles. The Cowboys’ defense is particularly bad with a league-best 29 sacks in seven weeks.
The Eagles defense is no slouch either with 14 takeaways, tied for NFL highs. This is partly due to the pressure created up front. But there is still a lot of season left, good competition in the division and a lot more that this team wants to accomplish.
As Quinn’s trade illustrates, their foot remains firmly on the gas despite an undefeated start.
“I’m happy man. Glad we have someone who can come and help us, a vet,” Graham said. “And a cool guy too.”