The Seattle Seahawks could be bringing back one of their former starters.
According to a report by Brady Henderson of ESPN on Monday, March 28, the Seahawks could sign Carlos Dunlap just weeks after releasing the 33-year-old defensive end. Dunlap remains unsigned and a “reunion” is not out of the question.
“An interesting Seahawks tidbit I heard last week and again today: another reunion with Carlos Dunlap isn’t out of the question,” says Henderson. “He’s not an ideal fit in their new 3-4 front, but they could make it work if the price is right once Dunlap tests his market. Nothing imminent there.”
Dunlap’s Sack Total Remained High in 2021
Dunlap had spent the past two seasons in Seattle, registering 13 sacks. In fact, Dunlap led the Seahawks with 8.5 sacks last season and had five sacks in just eight games after being acquired in a midseason trade with the Cincinnati Bengals.
However, despite his sack total, Dunlap’s playing time actually decreased last season. The veteran pass rusher saw just 481 snaps on defense, roughly 38% of the team’s defensive snaps. He had started six of his eight appearances during the 2020 season. Dunlap started just two of his 17 games during the 2021 season.
If Dunlap were to make a return with the Seahawks, it would be a carbon copy of what occurred last season. He was released in March of 2021 before he was brought back on a two-year deal a little more than three weeks later.
According to Pro Football Focus, Dunlap registered a 72.1 defensive grade — which was an actual improvement over his 2020 grade of 60.3. Dunlap’s grade actually would have ranked him among the top 42 of players at his position during the 2021 season.
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Seahawks’ Lack of Pass Rush Led to Issues
The Seahawks will be changing up their defensive front in the 3-4 alignment, but they appear to be lacking pass-rushing threats. One of Seattle’s biggest weaknesses last season was their lack of pass-rushing prowess, ranking third-to-last in sack percentage (4.91%) while struggling to rush the quarterback all season long.
One could argue that the Seahawks’ lack of a pass rush led to the defensive backfield allowing the second-most passing yardage in the league.
In his end of season press conference, head coach Pete Carroll stressed how much of an issue that it was that Seattle struggled in the pass-rushing department.
“We need to improve our pass rush, you know? That’s an area that we need to get better,” said Carroll. “You saw how dynamic it is when you get going like we did [in Week 18]. But we didn’t have that consistency and that’s an important part of it. So many things feed off of that. It’s the disruption of the quarterback that leads to all the issues, you know, on the positive side for the defense and so we gotta—whatever we can do—we have to work there. So that’s one of the focal points for me.”
Heavily depending upon a 33-year-old Dunlap may not be in the best interest of the Seahawks entering the 2022 season. But if they can rely on him in a bit role while delegating primary duties to younger players, Dunlap could have a role with the Seahawks for a third consecutive season.