October 15, 2021

Top 25 most important Bears in 2021: No. 7 Robert Quinn

Quinn had one of his worst seasons in 2020, the Bears need him to turn it around

Leading up to Bears training camp in late July, Shaw Media is counting down the top 25 most important Bears for the 2021 season.

What makes one player more important than another? That’s subjective, of course. But for our purposes it comes down to this: Are the Bears worse off if this player can’t play? Does this player have untapped potential or past greatness to live up to? Is his story going to be one fans follow closely this season?

Justin Fields might not be the best player for the Bears in 2021 [or maybe he will be?], but he certainly is among the most important.

No. 7 Robert Quinn

Position: Outside linebacker

NFL Experience: 11th year

Looking back: Robert Quinn was supposed to be the free agent signing that elevated the Bears’ pass rush. He was supposed to alleviate the pressure on Khalil Mack. He was supposed to flirt with double-digit sacks a year after recording 11.5 sacks during his lone season in Dallas. Instead, he felt the full ire of Bears fans.

In March 2020, the Bears awarded Quinn with a five-year contract worth a guaranteed $30 million, and potentially worth up to $70 million. They paid him $15.5 million last season, and he produced two sacks, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and 20 tackles to show for it in 15 games. The 31-year-old outside linebacker has had a productive NFL career, earning All-Pro honors once and recording double-digit sacks four times. However, last season was one of his worst performances, statistically.

Looking forward: Quinn’s salary cap hit in 2021 is $14.7 million, according to OverTheCap.com. The terms of the contract made it next to impossible to cut or move Quinn this offseason. The Bears have invested too much in him to give up after one bad season. Even though he finished with only two sacks, he was a lot more active in the second half of the season and did disrupt offenses quite a bit on film, even if it didn’t show up in the stat sheet.

But the Bears aren’t paying Quinn to look disruptive, they’re paying him for results. Mack needs help in the pass rush because he can’t do it alone. The Bears need someone to create pressure on the opposite side. If Quinn can turn things around in 2021, Bears fans will forgive him for his 2020 season real fast. If not, cutting him becomes much more palatable post-June 1, 2022, the way his contract is structured.

In case you missed it: Previous installments of the top 25

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for Shaw Media. He also contributes to high school football coverage at Friday Night Drive. Sean has covered various sports at the amateur, college and professional levels since 2012. He joined Shaw Media in 2016.