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Saturday open thread: Should the Lions have traded for Robert Quinn instead of tagging Ezekiel Ansah?

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Did the Lions make a mistake by not thinking outside the box for improving their pass rush?

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Los Angeles Rams Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier in the week, the Detroit Lions tagged defensive end Ezekiel Ansah with the franchise tag, and most (including me) agreed it was the right move. Though there was a lot of hesitancy among fans, the general consensus believed this was the safest route for the Lions to take in order to ensure their pass rush didn’t take an even further step back in 2018.

However, on Friday, the Dolphins got a little creative in helping their pass rush. As first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Dolphins agreed to trade for Los Angeles Rams defensive end Robert Quinn. Here are the reported terms of said trade:

Once the trade is final at the beginning of the league year, the Rams will be responsible for all of the signing bonus proration in 2018, and the Dolphins will be left with Quinn on, essentially, a two-year, $22 million contract (plus a couple roster bonuses to be paid).

So, in total, the Dolphins are paying the following for Robert Quinn and a 2018 sixth-round pick:

  • 2018 fourth-round pick
  • 2018 sixth-round pick
  • $22 million over two years

This is compared to Ezekiel Ansah, who will be getting paid somewhere around $18 million for one year on the franchise tag by the Lions.

So today’s Question of the Day is:

Should the Lions have tried to trade for Robert Quinn instead of placing the franchise tag on Ezekiel Ansah?

My answer: This question is tougher than it may seem. First of all, let’s be clear: Ezekiel Ansah is a much more talented player than Robert Quinn. Quinn did have an 19.0-sack season in 2013, but he only has 17.5 in the past three years combined. Quinn, too, has had to deal with injuries lately, missing 16 games since the 2015 season.

But he comes at nearly half the price. And for a player who had 10+ sacks in three different seasons, and is actually still a year younger than Ansah, this is a play you have to really consider.

Obviously, there are other benefits to keeping Ansah. He’s a known commodity. The Lions may have a completely new defensive coaching staff, but Bob Quinn knows what he’s capable of, and by proxy, so does Matt Patricia. Ansah is also a guarantee—meaning if the Lions wanted him, they could have him. Quinn, on the other hand, would take some wooing. There’s no guarantee that if the Lions offered the Rams a similar deal that they would accept it. It’s quite possible Los Angeles wanted him out of the conference, and would’ve charged extra for an NFC team.

Still, this is a really hard question for me to answer, because spending just $11 million instead of $18 million on a capable pass rusher would free up a lot of space for the Lions to pursue other positions of need. It would free up cap room to pursue someone like Dontari Poe or Andrew Norwell, and to be honest, that’s just too tempting to pass up.

So if it came down to it and there was a scenario in which I could choose Ezekiel Ansah for $18 million or Robert Quinn for a fourth-round pick and $22 million over two years, I’d pick Quinn. He’s just as much of a gamble as Ansah, but much cheaper.

Your turn.

Poll

Which would you have preferred the Lions to do?

This poll is closed

  • 60%
    Franchise tag Ezekiel Ansah
    (638 votes)
  • 39%
    Trade for Robert Quinn
    (413 votes)
1051 votes total Vote Now