For the second-straight season, Seattle pulled off a midseason trade that transformed its defense.
In 2019, Seattle acquired safety Quandre Diggs who immediately improved the Seahawks secondary. In 2020, Seattle acquired edge rusher Carlos Dunlap who immediately improved the Seahawks pass rush.
Before the trade, Seattle had just 12 sacks in seven games (1.7 per game). After Dunlap dawned the green and blue, Seattle racked up 34 sacks in nine games (3.7 per game) and finished the season seventh in the NFL in sacks. Had Seattle kept the pace of 3.7 sacks per game for a 16-game season, it would have ranked first in the NFL with 59 sacks. Pittsburgh led the NFL with 56.
And Dunlap is not done yet.
The 10-year NFL veteran from Florida spoke with the media during exit interviews Sunday afternoon following the Seahawks 30-20 Wild Card loss at Lumen Field and stated his desire to remain in Seattle.
"I'd love to stay in Seattle as long as they'll have me," said Dunlap.
Prior to the trade, the 31-year old was mulling over retirement while on a Cincinnati team with little hope to make the postseason.
"Earlier this year, when things weren’t going so great in Cincy, I’ll be honest with you: I did some serious thinking on what I wanted to do with my career. Weighed all options," Dunlap wrote in The Player's Tribune. "I even gave some thought to retiring—I really did. I took out a notepad, and wrote down the pros and the cons of just walking away.
"I wasn’t ready to be done."
Then after deciding to continue, Seattle traded a seventh-round selection for Dunlap who arrived in the Emerald City ready to help a contending team.
In his time as a Seahawk, he has had nothing but great things to say about the organization which he echoed Sunday morning ahead of free agency.
"You guys already know how grateful I am to be here," Dunlap said. "They've taken great care, I think this is a great organization for vets. Although I feel younger and fresh like a young player as well. I feel like I have a lot of ball left. I would like to finish it up with an organization like this.
But, he's leaving the 2020 season with a sour taste in his mouth, falling short in the Wild Card round continuing his winless record in the playoffs.
Dunlap wants to return in Seattle and change that.
"My two goals still are Super Bowl and 100 sacks," Dunlap said. "I have not accomplished either one of them and I haven't won a playoff game. I think we have the pedigree here to do all that next year and I would love to be a part of it."
When he got traded, Dunlap knew the expectation was he would play out the season and see where it goes as an impending free agent. Now, he hopes there's room for him to return in 2021.
"It was very clear of what I was coming here to do," Dunlap said. "What my time spent would be. Now it's a conversation and I'm open and welcoming for it."
Dunlap isn't the only free agent Seattle has to worry about: Shaquill Griffin, Quandre Diggs, Jamal Adams, and Quinton Dunbar will all join him on the open market.
Free agency officially begins on March 17th, the beginning of the 2021 NFL league year.