It was hard to know what to make of the Seahawks signing Kerry Hyder without knowing what that meant for Carlos Dunlap. Now we know that it wasn’t an either/or situation for Seattle as the club landed both pass rushers.
Adam Schefter reported on Thursday evening that the Seahawks signed Dunlap to a two-year, $16.6 million deal. That’s massive news for Seattle, a team that now boasts an impressive defensive line, both in regard to top-level talent and depth. A few weeks back, Seattle cut the veteran pass rusher and his $14.1 million cap number without incurring a single dollar of dead cap space. Now John Schneider has found a way to work his magic and get Dunlap back at $8.3 million annually.
This news came hours after it was announced that Seattle would be moving on from Jarran Reed. Letting go of Reed, whether it be via trade or releasing him, saves the Seahawks $8.975 million in cap space with $5 million in dead money. Seattle will presumably have to clear more space to accommodate Dunlap’s new contract.
With Dunlap back in the fold, Seattle’s top pass rush group probably looks like this: Dunlap at LEO, Poona Ford at nose, L.J. Collier at 3-tech and Hyder at 5-tech. Bryan Mone, Benson Mayowa, Darrell Taylor, Alton Robinson, Rasheem Green and Cedric Lattimore figure to be the top depth pieces behind those four. That doesn’t even include Jamal Adams, who posted a team-high 9.5 sacks by himself last season.
Dunlap posted 5.0 sacks in eight regular season games with the Seahawks in 2020 after being acquired in a midseason trade with the Bengals. Two of those quarterback takedowns sealed wins against Washington and Arizona. More notably, the production from Mayowa, Reed, Collier and Ford all spiked upon Dunlap’s arrival. Dunlap was the catalyst to the extreme turnaround from the pass rush as a whole as the Seahawks had just 12 sacks in eight games without him before ending the season with 46 sacks, good for seventh-best in the NFL.
Another layer to getting Dunlap back in the fold is the ability for Seattle to be patient with Darrell Taylor. The Seahawks can now focus on developing the traits of their coveted second-round pick without banking on him to be a Week 1 difference-maker. Taylor notably didn’t play a snap in 2020 and was limited to just one week of practice due to a prolonged rehab from leg surgery.
Dunlap is entering Year 12 of his career and owns 87.5 career sacks. Following Seattle’s Wild Card Round loss to the Rams, he expressed his desire to play until he reaches 100 sacks and made it clear that he hopes to finish his career with the Seahawks.
Dunlap just turned 32 years old and should have a few quality years left in him, but his age leaves the door open for Taylor and Robinson to still potentially be the team’s pass rushers of the future. The moves to sign Dunlap and Hyder are the perfect short-term boosts Seattle needed this offseason.
With just three picks in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Seahawks can now feel settled that their defensive line is good to go. An additional interior offensive lineman or a corner could be the target with the team’s second-round pick.
With the Dunlap mystery reaching its conclusion, now Seahawks fans will turn their attention to what happens to K.J. Wright. The veteran linebacker remains a free agent with an uncertain future.