Every move matters. Every roster spot is valuable. If there is a chance to upgrade, the Eagles are going to explore a way to make it happen. On Wednesday, they did just that, trading a 2023 fourth-round draft pick to the Chicago Bears to acquire veteran defensive end Robert Quinn, who brings experience, great production, and depth, which will undoubtedly keep the pass-rushing unit more fresh and effective late in games and throughout the season.
It was a masterful stroke just days before the November 1 NFL Trade Deadline, and it highlighted several things that make Eagles Executive Vice President and General Manager Howie Roseman so proficient at his craft.
1. The Eagles lost Derek Barnett in Week 1 of this season and have kept their eyes open to replace his reps, his toughness, and add another edge player for whom offenses must account. A three-time Pro Bowl player who four times has reached double digits in sacks (as recently as 2021, when he had 18.5), Quinn was a team captain in Chicago and is a player who is widely respected around the league. The Eagles added themselves not only an impact player; they added another impact person. Upon hearing the news that Quinn was traded, Chicago linebacker Roquan Smith needed a moment to compose himself in the middle of his press conference, burying his head in his T-shirt to wipe away emotion. "I have a great deal of respect for that guy," Smith said. "Damn. Crazy."
2. Quinn isn't coming to Philadelphia to play every snap. The Eagles still have Josh Sweat and Brandon Graham, and both are having strong 2022 seasons. They have Haason Reddick off the edge, or over the center, or wherever Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon wants to use him. The idea is to keep everyone fresh, keep everyone pushing and competing, and to generally have a quarterback's head on a swivel and a center looking around for all the pass rushers, different from one snap to the next. You can never have too many pass rushers, right? In seven games this season, Quinn has one quarterback sack, three QB hits, two tackles for loss, and eight total tackles.
3. Roseman has accumulated all of this NFL Draft capital for moments like this. The Eagles – even as they traded up in the 2022 NFL Draft's first round to select defensive tackle Jordan Davis and then dealt a 2022 No. 1 pick to Tennessee for wide receiver A.J. Brown and late in the summer sent two draft picks, including a 2023 fifth-round draft pick, to New Orleans for safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson – still have six draft picks next spring including their own first-round draft pick and another No. 1 from the Saints. New Orleans is currently 2-5, in case you haven't been following. Roseman is making the most of every asset here and the Eagles, while they are focusing on improving the roster to the maximum for 2022, know they have substantial NFL Draft currency for 2023 and should have more maneuverability within the 2023 NFL Salary Cap that is expected to rise substantially.
4. Thus, the idea that the Eagles are "cashing in all of their chips," isn't accurate given they still have a lot of draft firepower in the future – including an extra second-round pick from the Saints in 2024.
DE Robert Quinn has recorded 102 sacks during his tenure in the NFL, through stints with the St. Louis Rams, Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins, and Chicago Bears. Now, he'll look to contribute to Philadelphia's defense.
5. Roseman always has a great sense of the pulse of the league and he literally looks into every potential trade or discussion that is to be had within the league. He and the Eagles have a great team in place to not only evaluate trade possibilities from an on-field perspective but also from the viewpoint of financial ramifications as well as locker room fit. That gives the Eagles the confidence to move on deals that they think will benefit the team now and in the future. Again, Roseman and the Eagles aren't mortgaging the future in any way. What is brilliant here is that Roseman has an eye on 2022 and is doing everything he can do to make this roster as strong as possible without risking future success. It may sound easy to do, but it surely isn't.
6. What makes all of these moves work on the field is Roseman's identification of players on the market who fit into what the Eagles do within their respective offensive and defensive schemes. In the case of Brown, a bigger receiver who could catch short passes and smash his way through defenders after the catch fit in perfectly with the skill set of second-year receiver DeVonta Smith. Reddick has become just the edge presence Gannon's defense needed to improve a pass rush that was an offseason priority. James Bradberry is a bigger cornerback and a perfect complement to Pro Bowl corner Darius Slay. Gardner-Johnson was a slot cornerback in New Orleans, but the Eagles saw a player who in college played safety and would bring needed athleticism to that position alongside a ready-to-start Marcus Epps. Kyzir White was a tackling machine with the Chargers last year whom the Eagles believed would bring that kind of production in space to this defense. It has all worked out. Quinn has played as a standup end and as a pass rusher with his hand in the dirt. That's what the Eagles want off the edge.
And that's what Roseman brought in late in the day on Wednesday. The players found out as they exited the practice field and quarterback Jalen Hurts said the team would welcome in Quinn as they welcome in every new player – with open arms and all hands on deck to make him the best player he can be in a defense that takes another step in the right direction.