Dolphins defensive ends and cap situation after Robert Quinn trade

SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 21: Robert Quinn /

The Miami Dolphins added another pass rusher to their squad Friday evening in a trade with the Los Angeles Rams. Robert Quinn will join the already crowded front defensive line.

Two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Robert Quinn and a 6th round pick were sent to the Dolphins. In return, the Rams received the Dolphins 4th and 6th round picks in the upcoming 2018 draft.

It appears the Dolphins are hoping Quinn will be an asset to adding pressure on opposing quarterbacks, an area Miami struggled in during the 2017 season.The 27 year old, was a 1st round selection by the Rams back in the 2011 NFL Draft, and was able to amass 45 sacks within his first 4 years in the league.

However, after signing a 6-year extension with the Rams in 2014, injuries derailed Quinn’s production as he was only able to make 15 starts during the 2015 & 2016 seasons. It appears he returned to form in 2017 while managing 8.5 sacks.

Quinn’s talents however come at a price.

According to Over The Cap, Quinn has an estimated cap hit of $12.4 million for the 2018 season and the Dolphins are already $8 million over after placing the franchise tag on wide receiver Jarvis Landry. Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero reported the move will cost the Dolphins $11.4 million in cap space. The team could be a whopping $19.4 million over the cap, while the Rams cap space increases to a projected $55 million.

From an outside perspective, the Rams are taking the correct approach to rebuilding under 2nd-year head coach Sean McVay, managing money responsibly to create opportunities for their 2nd offseason of free agency and draft. On the other hand, the Dolphins–entering their 3rd season with Adam Gase–claim they want to rebuild while getting younger and cheaper, but their use of money-spending at this point says otherwise.

So Where does Quinn fit in amongst the Dolphins DE’s?

The Dolphins currently have defensive ends Cameron Wake and Andre Branch on sizeable contracts. Wake has a cap hit of $8.625 million, and Branch has a hit of $10 million. The amount of money invested in the position between the three brings up questions of who will be featured in a starting role.

Wake is 36 years old and the much younger Quinn has the potential of being his replacement should the Dolphins eventually move on from the aged veteran. Wake could theoretically take a backseat to Quinn and be featured more as a rotational player coming off the bench.

As for Andre Branch, he is coming off surgery on a knee injury which is speculated to have affected his production during the 2017. He needs to be featured based on his salary unless the Dolphins play their former 2017 1st round selection Charles Harris over him and essentially admit to the fan base they have another “Byron Maxwell” situation on their hands (playing a younger cheaper player over one who is being paid $10M). Head coach Adam Gase said at the Scouting Combine that Harris would be competing for a starting role.

Quinn’s addition has the potential to benefit the Dolphins in a tremendous way if the player can get back to his pro bowl form, and the picks Miami gave up for the pass rusher were not costly. However, his price combined with the Dolphins current cap situation provides more evidence that restructures and releases are bound to happen in the coming weeks.