LAKE FOREST – At times it feels like Robert Quinn could be the most interesting man in the world, or at least one of the greatest puzzles.
He appeared at Halas Hall two days before April’s NFL draft to accept the team’s Piccolo Award, spoke fondly of the 2021 season and indicated a real satisfaction with being a Chicagoan and a Bear.
At the same time a sadness was clear over the departure of his running mate, Khalil Mack, as well as the likely departures of Akiem Hicks, Allen Robinson, Bilal Nichols and others. And when asked if he expected to stay he said flatly and without emotion he would like to stay but the NFL is a business and nothing would surprise him.
He then disappeared for three months.
When he was willing to potentially rack up about $90,000 in fines for missing the mandatory veteran minicamp in mid June almost everyone assumed Quinn wanted out.
After all, why would one of the leading pass rushers in the NFL want to come back at 32 with no more than another year or at best two at his peak and play for a rebuilding team, one unlikely to win anywhere near as many games as it will lose?
Most believed he was as good as gone but when the deadline for reporting came Tuesday morning, there was Quinn sporting a brand new hairstyle and looking in the kind of shape that would allow him to go out and notch a sack or two tomorrow.
Still, it was assumed he was here just to avoid fines until the Bears sent him packing.
But No. 94 was all suited up and ready to go when we got to the practice field Wednesday.
A couple hours later Quinn strolled into the media room and was asked if he’d planned all along to report on time.
“I mean, I’m here,” he said. “So I mean, whatever I planned, I’m here. That’s what it is.”
We’ve come to learn Quinn always speaks the truth and always leaves you assuming there is more.
In search of the rest of it he was asked if he wants to be traded.
“I’ve been traded twice. You get tired of moving,” Quinn said. “I thought I did a good job last year, but I guess I’ll just continue to try to reprove myself.
“I expect to be here, but I guess if not, well, that’s out of my control. I’m just going to take it day by day and have fun here with the guys and just let life take its course.”
How do you hear that and not assume Quinn wants to stay but had been given indications he might not?
“I haven’t heard anything since being in the building, but I will say I don’t work upstairs, either. I’m in the locker room,” Quinn said. “When I see coach ‘Flus, he seems to have a smile on his face. I take that as a good thing.
“I’m going to keep that as a positive staple in my mind. I see a smile on his face when he looks at me, just be happy about that.”
The back and forth continued for another 10 minutes or so but here’s the bottom line:
Quinn is both the kind of player and person you can’t help but want to have around, especially among young and developing players.
But if the Bears aren’t going to win he is probably worth more to them in a trade then at defensive end if another team is willing to offer them say, the Von Miller deal – a second- and third-round pick – or something similar.
Before you scoff, Quinn is a year younger, healthier and has been the better player the last couple years.
He knows that and that is why his constant refrain is “Face it, this is a business and it’s out of my control.”
Should he get off to another solid start you can probably bet the farm he’ll be gone by the trade deadline, but for now just be glad he’s still a Bear because he’s really a heck of a football player and a special kind of guy.