RENTON, Wash. — Carlos Dunlap made it clear he wanted out of Cincinnati and got his wish.
The Seattle Seahawks hope by getting Dunlap out of Cincinnati, they’ve landed an answer to help solve their underperforming defense.
In dire need of defensive help, the Seahawks acquired Dunlap from the Bengals on Wednesday. Seattle coach Pete Carroll said Dunlap will step into the LEO position on the defensive line once he clears COVID-19 protocols, which will come next week.
“This was one that fit exactly what we needed and really pleased to get it done,” Carroll said. “Glad to bring a guy of Carlos' stature and background to the club and I’m happy for him to come here.”
Dunlap was thoroughly unhappy with his situation in Cincinnati, to the point of briefly putting his house for sale on social media last weekend. The Bengals found a willing buyer in Seattle. The Seahawks have been in desperate need to solve their pass rush issues that have been a key part of a defense that ranks last in the league in yards allowed and passing yards allowed through the first six games of the season.
Dunlap, 31, has spent his entire career with the Bengals and was a Pro Bowl selection in 2015 and 2016. He had 46 sacks between 2015-19 and had eight sacks last year for Cincinnati.
“Carlos had many fine seasons here and showed rare physical talent that took him to multiple Pro Bowls,” Bengals president Mike Brown said in a statement. “I will always remember the role he played as a key part of exceptional defenses that we rode to the playoffs year after year.”
This season, Dunlap has started four games and had one sack and 18 tackles. He’ll finish his career in Cincinnati one sack shy of tying the franchise’s all-time mark.
In a post on Instagram on Wednesday, Dunlap thanked the Bengals while also expressing his excitement about the opportunity in Seattle.
“I’m not going to lie, I’m nervous as hell,” Dunlap said. “But I’m excited ... too. It’s all up from here. Lets go. I get to play.”
Earlier Wednesday, Bengals coach Zac Taylor didn’t speak directly to Dunlap’s trade, but said that team-building is an ongoing process.
“When you have 70 players in the locker room, there are always going to be challenges and people that are frustrated and you’ve just got to work in conjunction with the leaders on the team to manage all those situations to make sure that it’s being handled exactly how as we, the Cincinnati Bengals, want it to be handled now and going forward,” Taylor said. “I think we’ve made progress in that area every single week that we’ve been here. I think we have a really good group of guys who are starting to see that and handling things the right way.”
Seattle sent backup offensive lineman B.J. Finney and a seventh-round draft pick to the Bengals in compensation. Finney was signed in the offseason with the thought he would be Seattle’s starting center, but was beaten out by Ethan Pocic for the starting job.
The trade is another deft move by general manager John Schneider as Dunlap is not a rental. Dunlap’s contract goes through the 2021 season.
Schneider sees the opportunity Seattle has at the moment. The Seahawks have the top offensive in the NFL through six games with Russell Wilson playing as well as any point of his career. But the defense has been a massive problem through a combination of injuries and poor performance, and the pass rush has been a core part of the issue.
Seattle has just nine sacks through six games. Safety Jamal Adams, who has missed the past three games because of an injury, is tied with Benson Mayowa for the team lead with two sacks. The Seahawks didn’t record a QB hit on Arizona’s Kyler Murray in last Sunday’s 37-34 overtime loss.
The lack of pressure up front and problems in the secondary have led to Seattle giving up 368.7 yards per game passing, worst in the league.
Seattle believes Dunlap will be a boost because of his ability to line up in multiple spots at defensive end and be a three-down player. Carroll said he’ll work in a rotation that includes veteran Benson Mayowa and should help both players.
Dunlap won’t play this week but the Seahawks could end up adding Adams, Dunlap, Damon “Snacks” Harrison, Rasheem Green and Mychal Kendricks to their defense in the next couple of weeks.
“We’ve watched him from afar for years,” Seattle defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said. “He’s been a player that’s been very productive and active over the last several years, so there’s no question he could serve and step in and help us. ... I cannot wait to get him here.”
By TIM BOOTH AP Sports Writer