Carlos Dunlap knew his time in Cincinnati was up. A fractured relationship on both sides meant it was inevitable that the Bengals were going to move on from him prior to the trade deadline. A deal with the Seahawks landed Dunlap in the Pacific Northwest.
A fresh start with a Super Bowl contender has Dunlap feeling revived and refreshed.
“I feel like it’s a great fit. These guys fly around. I’ve been an edge defender my whole career,” Dunlap said on Wednesday. “I’m being asked to do what I’ve done my best. … I’m excited and fired up to do what I do.”
Dunlap will play the LEO spot in Seattle’s defense, which means he’ll be the team’s primary edge rusher. Dunlap had never heard of the LEO before, but he was all in after Pete Carroll explained the role to him.
“I get to be aggressive. I’m explosive off the ball, setting the edge,” Dunlap said. “I’ve been a dominant, consistent edge guy my whole career.”
Dunlap has 82.5 career sacks since being drafted in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Bengals. He’s also had at least 7.5 sacks in each of the last seven seasons dating back to 2013. However, Dunlap has just 1.0 sack through seven games this year.
He urged that there hasn’t been any drop-off in his play, and he’s eager to prove that in Seattle.
According to ESPN’s Field Yates, Dunlap and the Seahawks agreed to a reworked contract to help keep Seattle compliant with the salary cap this season. Dunlap was originally due about $4.59 million for the rest of the season. Now he’ll make just $2 million over the final nine weeks. However, Dunlap will receive a $3 million bonus on the fifth day of the 2021 league year if he remains on Seattle’s roster.
That means if Dunlap plays well and proves himself as an invaluable piece on the Seahawks roster, he’ll end up making more than the $4.59 million he was scheduled to make originally.
“I have full confidence and faith on betting on myself,” Dunlap said. “And betting with the Seahawks? Who else would I want to bet with? It was like a win-win situation. At this point in my career, if I was ever to put on another jersey, I wanted to go to an organization where I was the last piece to help them win and get a Super Bowl.
“I’ve put my money where my mouth is, now I’ve got to let my play speak.”
Dunlap spent last week going through Seattle’s defensive playbook. Now that he’s through the COVID-intake protocol, he’s ready for his first official practice on Wednesday. Carroll expressed confidence that Dunlap will be ready for Sunday’s game against the Bills, both from a conditioning standpoint and from a mental standpoint.
“I don't see any restriction at all on him playing this week,” Carroll said. “We'll find out during the week. Really excited to have him out here. He's really pumped about being part of it.
“(He) has the big eyes looking around, wondering what's going on. He's going to come practice for the first time (Wednesday), hear the music and having a good time. Playing football might be different than he's done. But I don't know. I'll keep my eye on him. It's always kind of fun to see how we do stuff around here for the first time.”
There are nine games left in the regular season for Dunlap to make his mark in Seattle. He’s aiming to make an immediate impact in his debut on Sunday.
“(The Seahawks) believe that I have plenty of juice left in the tank,” Dunlap. “I feel like I’ve got plenty of years left to do it, and I want to do it now. We’re going to set the tone on Sunday.”