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Cowboys Fill Defensive Line Gap With Miami’s Robert Quinn

Robert Quinn during his time with the Rams in 2015
Robert Quinn during his time with the Rams in 2015
Keith Allison
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Feel free to throw this back in our face when the Cowboys are picking through the scrap heap for offensive line or secondary cover after Week 3 of the 2019 season. But for now, on the day after the team traded for former Dolphins and Rams defensive end Robert Quinn, your local football heroes' roster looks basically complete, about a month before the team even goes on the clock in the NFL draft.

There are still some loose ends to tie up. The Cowboys need a swing tackle and Quinn's star bookend, DeMarcus Lawrence, still needs a contract. But barring injury or holdout, the team doesn't need much else.

Quinn, who doesn't turn 29 until May, has 69 sacks in his eight-year NFL career. While he's struggled to recapture the Pro Bowl form he showed in St. Louis in 2013 and 2014, when he ran up 29.5 sacks and 54 quarterback hits, he represented an ideal buy-low opportunity for the Cowboys, who acquired the former first-team All-Pro for a 2020 sixth-round pick.

Quinn's been at his best as a 4-3 defensive end, playing the role he'll be expected to play in Dallas. When he's struggled, it's been as a 3-4 outside linebacker, a system the Dolphins plan to use more often under new defensive coordinator Brian Flores.

Quinn will have every chance to excel opposite Lawrence, who holds the attention of every offensive line he plays against thanks to being one of the NFL's most versatile pass rushers.

Cowboys Executive Vice President of Player Personnel Stephen Jones said he expects Quinn to fill the holes left by the indefinite suspension of defensive end Randy Gregory and the departure of defensive tackle David Irving.

"With that unknown being there [with Gregory] and the same situation with David Irving, our pass rush ... We really felt like we needed to shore that up," Jones said. "With D-Law coming off that left side, that right end spot, with Randy being a question mark, is a big deal to us. Robert's got a few more skins than Randy. He's been in the league quite a bit longer, but [it’s] real important, as we all know, to get pressure on the passer. We really felt like he fit our system."

If Quinn is a bust, he won't leave a big stain on 2020 for the Cowboys either. Quinn has got just one year left on his contract and, according to Cowboys beat reporters, he and the Cowboys have agreed to a reduced $8 million base salary this season, down from the $11.1 million Quinn was slated to make had he stayed on the Dolphins. 

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