Robert Quinn’s absence from Chicago Bears mandatory minicamp six weeks ago fueled speculation that the veteran defensive end wanted to be traded as the team undergoes a renovation.
But after practicing on the first day of training camp Wednesday at Halas Hall, Quinn indicated he is on board with the Bears for as long as they keep him around.
Quinn said he skipped minicamp — and all of organized team activities before that — because he was taking care of his body and trying to get himself right mentally. Entering his 12th season and coming off one of the best years of his career with a Bears record 18 ½ sacks, Quinn figured he knows what’s best for his body.
Asked if he wanted to be traded, Quinn said, “I’ve been traded twice. You get tired of moving. I thought I did a good job last year, but I guess I’ll just continue to try to re-prove myself. I expect to be here. But I guess if not, well, that’s out of my control.”
Asked again if he wanted to be in Chicago, he added: “Yeah. I never expected to go anywhere.”
Quinn, 32, has been around long enough to know players come and go from teams, and he maintains the mantra that “it’s a business” when considering how many of his Bears veteran teammates are in other cities this summer, most notably on defense Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks.
But Quinn said he isn’t going to let the changes on the team affect the way he prepares.
“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.”
Quinn, who is in the third season of a five-year, $70 million contract, presumably would love to bring the best version of himself to a winning team, something the Bears are not expected to be this season. It also would stand to reason such a team would have a use for a player with 101 career sacks.
But Quinn wouldn’t entertain that notion when asked about the possibility of general manager Ryan Poles trading him to a contender for draft capital at some point in the months ahead.
“If you think about all the what-ifs, honestly, you’re going to start bringing some negative energy in the building,” Quinn said. “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.”
Poles said Tuesday that he had not had a conversation with Quinn about the player wanting a trade. And even though it doesn’t rule out the possibility of moving Quinn in the future, Poles also noted Quinn brings value even beyond the huge numbers he could put up getting after quarterbacks this season.
“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. “For me, that’s what he brings.”
Quinn went through individual drills Wednesday as he ramps up to full practice participation. Bears coach Matt Eberflus said the team will manage the workload of some of its veterans case by case based on the players’ needs.
Despite not working with Quinn much in person this summer, Eberflus said he stayed in contact with him and feels he is fully on board.
“His body feels great. His mind is good. He’s ready to go,” Eberflus said.
And while he’s here, Quinn, who played under Eberflus’ mentor, Rod Marinelli, with the Dallas Cowboys, seems eager to see how he will fare in the Bears’ new 4-3 defense.
“Knowing the type of defense we’re running, I’m very familiar with it,” he said. “Knock on wood, I plan to be successful for my personal self. I guess I know what I’m coming into, and that takes weight off my shoulders. You’re not coming into the building not knowing what’s about to happen. So I’m walking in here knowing exactly what they want from me, exactly what they expect from me and what I need to do. Again, that makes life a whole lot easier when you’re not walking in confused.”