Robert Quinn wants to be a Bear, and he is — for now
The All-Pro edge rusher said he skipped the offseason program for his physical and mental health at 32 and insisted he doesn’t want to be traded. But that doesn’t mean he won’t be.
All-Pro edge rusher Robert Quinn is here until he’s not.
He participated lightly in practice as the Bears opened training camp Wednesday at Halas Hall after planting a seed of doubt by missing the offseason program, including the mandatory minicamp in June.
It was a surprise to some and maybe even to Quinn, an enigmatic, affable and complicated guy who can be as cryptic as he is direct.
“I mean, I’m here,” Quinn said when asked if he was always planning to be at training camp after missing the offseason program. “So, I mean, whatever I planned, I’m here. That’s what it is.”
Quinn is coming off a spectacular season in which he had 18½ sacks to break Richard Dent’s franchise record. But at 32, he’s an odd fit for a team clearly in rebuilding mode after trading Khalil Mack and letting Akiem Hicks and Allen Robinson go in free agency.
At this point, they don’t need players who give them the best chance to win. They need players who give them the best chance to grow.
For his part, Quinn said he doesn’t want to be traded.
“I’ve been traded twice,’’ Quinn said. ‘‘You get tired of moving. 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.”
Skipping the offseason program was for his own health and not a sign of unwillingness to be part of a rebuild or an indirect trade demand.
“More just trying to take care of my body — get myself ready mentally,” Quinn said. “It’s my 12th year. I kind of knew what to expect from that, and more just getting myself right mentally [and] physically.”
Whatever, Quinn’s status with the Bears remains a fluid situation. When coach Matt Eberflus was asked specifically about having Quinn back on the field, he said he was excited but quickly moved on to others on the field for the first time — defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad, offensive linemen Michael Schofield and Riley Reiff and wide receiver N’Keal Harry.
Eberflus said he’s convinced Quinn is on board with the new program.
“I’ve been talking to him the whole summer,” Eberflus said, “and it’s been great, great communication, and he’s on board and he’s ready to go.”
Quinn said if he’s here, he’s all in. But it wasn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of the new regime.
“You can’t play this game if you’re not happy to be here because it’s one of the roughest games out there,” Quinn said. “Every day you’ve got to buy in to be able to give the best of yourself. That’s all I’m trying to do every time I step in the building. I’m just trying to bring the best version of myself.”
General manager Ryan Poles, of course, isn’t going to tip his hand.
“I think it’s important to have guys who are experienced, that have had success in the league and know how to play and practice,” Poles said when asked about Quinn’s fit as a veteran on a team with so much youth and inexperience. “That’s what he brings.”
That uninspired response certainly doesn’t quell the notion that Poles will take the first good offer he gets for Quinn. And it would probably be best for Quinn, but he wasn’t about to address that Wednesday. He’s a Bear. For now.
“If you think about all the what-ifs, you’re going to start bringing some negative energy in the building,” Quinn said when asked about the appeal of going to a better team. “I’ve seen it before, and it’s not a good thing. I’m just trying to walk in with a positive spirit and get myself prepared for the season as a Chicago Bear and take life as it comes.”