The Bears likely are headed into their season opener at the Lions without their most expensive free-agent acquisition. Outside linebacker Robert Quinn missed practice all week with an ankle injury and was listed as doubtful.
He’s at the very core of their blueprint for the season. The team’s top priority, without question, was to build the NFL’s best pass rush around Khalil Mack, Quinn and Akiem Hicks.
General manager Ryan Pace dumped 2016 first-round pick Leonard Floyd after he had three sacks last season and replaced him with Quinn on a five-year, $70 million contract with essentially $30.1 million guaranteed over this season and next. It was the second-largest total value for a contract signed by a free agent this year.
Quinn will be well worth it if he’s healthy and productive. He was an All-Pro with 19 1/2 sacks for the Rams in 2013 and had 11 1/2 for the Cowboys last season. Since entering the league in 2011, he is eighth in sacks with 80 1/2.
His time with the Bears has been frustrating for both sides. Quinn was on a separate conditioning program in the preseason because a personal issue interfered with his training, coach Matt Nagy said, and he is believed to have practiced in full twice at most.
Journeyman outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo, the No. 6 overall pick in 2013, is the most likely candidate to take Quinn’s spot. The Bears could also use James Vaughters and rookie Trevis Gipson.
Mingo’s career high in sacks was five as a rookie. Since then he has totaled five in 2,061 defensive snaps over six seasons.
“He’s got some dominant traits, and obviously he was drafted where he was because of those traits,” defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said. “He’s kind of sneaky good.”
So sneaky, in fact, that the Bears might be the only team that knows it. Mingo was a free agent for more than two weeks before they signed him to a one-year deal at the veteran minimum.