The Cowboys defensive line is chock full of questions.
Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence received a second-straight franchise tag and could hold out until he and the Cowboys agree to an extension. Defensive end Randy Gregory received an indefinite suspension — his fourth league suspension since 2015 – in late February. Defensive tackle David Irving hit free agency, wasn’t re-signed and retired to pursue cannabis advocacy.
But amid these questions, Dallas found one answer Thursday.
The Cowboys are expected to complete a trade with the Miami Dolphins for defensive end Robert Quinn, according to NFL Network.
Quinn visited team headquarters at The Star last Tuesday as word surfaced the Dolphins and new coach Brian Flores were exploring their market.
Miami had already shown it would pay to offload a player that didn’t fit its future plans. Earlier in March, the Dolphins swapped quarterback Ryan Tannehill and a 2019 sixth-round pick in exchange for the Titans’ 2020 fourth and 2019 seventh-round picks. The Dolphins reportedly paid $5 of $7 million in guarantees on Tannehill’s new contract. He will now back up Marcus Mariota.
Miami subsequently signed free-agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
The Dolphins already paid Quinn his $1.12 million roster bonus two weeks ago. But he was set to count $12.9 million against the cap in 2019, second most on the roster.
Now, the Cowboys add their second former Pro Bowl selection this offseason. On March 19, Dallas agreed to terms with former Packers receiver Randall Cobb. Quinn was named to the Pro Bowl in 2013 and 2014. He notched a whopping 40 sacks in three seasons beginning in 2012. The eight-year vet claims 79 sacks, 256 tackles, 23 forced fumbles and 17 pass deflections in all.
His production, however, has dipped since 2014.
With the Dolphins in 2018 — Quinn spent seven prior years with the Rams — Quinn started all 16 games and registered 6.5 sacks and 38 tackles.
The Cowboys’ defense ranked sixth overall in 2018 but finished 20th against the pass. Dallas will look to Quinn to complement Lawrence on the end, potentially allowing Crawford to spend more time inside.
Gregory will have a role in the pass rush if available but the Cowboys are planning as if they can’t count on him. His suspension, indefinite in Stage Three of the league’s program on substance abuse, depends on if and when he meets league criteria for reinstatement. That doesn’t eliminate Gregory returning in time for training camp but it also doesn’t assure his availability at any point in 2019.
“Randy played a lot of snaps for us at defensive end last year,” head coach Jason Garrett said at the combine. “We do feel like we have good defensive end depth, so hopefully come draft time we can draft as purely as possible.”
The Cowboys’ first selection in the 2019 draft is in the second round, at pick 58.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.
If you love talking football, we have the perfect spot for you. Join our new Facebook Group, The Ruling Off the Field, to engage in friendly debate and conversation with fellow football fans and our NFL insiders.