The Seattle Seahawks added to what has been a suspect defense this season on Wednesday, dealing reserve offensive lineman B.J. Finney and a 2021 seventh-round pick to the Cincinnati Bengals for veteran defensive end Carlos Dunlap, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The full terms and financial details of the agreement have not yet been shared with the media.
Dunlap leaves the Bengals as their all-time sack leader, with 82.5 quarterback takedowns in 155 games with Cincy. He’s been the team’s top pass-rusher most years, putting up at least 7.5 sacks in each of the last seven. He also forced 20 fumbles, recovered nine (one of which he returned to the house), and returned both of his interceptions back for touchdowns while with the Bengals.
The relationship between the two-time Pro Bowler and the team that drafted him in the second round in 2010 has soured considerably in recent weeks, however. After Zac Taylor came in to be the head coach in Cincinnati before last season, he made a change in the defensive scheme, which limited Dunlap’s effectiveness and ultimately resulted in his being removed from the starting lineup in each of the past three games.
After the Bengals’ most recent loss on Sunday, a 37-34 defeat to the divisional-rival Cleveland Browns, Dunlap was apparently very critical of defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo’s play calling. Subsequently, the 11-year pro posted property listings to his social media that were quickly deleted, though their meaning was certainly clear: Dunlap was on his way out of Cincinnati. On Wednesday the team told Dunlap to stay away from the team’s facilities as they looked to find a trade partner, which they did in Seattle.
A pass-rushing specialist like Dunlap is sorely needed in the Pacific Northwest, where the Seahawks defense has struggled in all aspects, and particularly when it comes to getting pressure on the quarterback. They’ve managed just nine sacks on the year, tied for sixth-fewest in the NFL, and their leading sackers have only two apiece. The defense has been giving up the most yards (479.2) and the 10th-most points per game (28.7) this season.
After failing to hold onto a 10-point lead late in an overtime loss to the division-rival Arizona Cardinals during which Seattle never laid a finger on Cards QB Kyler Murray behind the line of scrimmage, something had to give. Enter, Dunlap.
After missing out on Jadeveon Clowney (who ended up signing with the Tennessee Titans) the Seahawks had settled for a pass rush led by veteran Bruce Irvin, current sack leader Benson Mayowa, second-round pick Darrell Taylor, and third-year pro Rasheem Green. Irvin had a season-ending injury in Week 2, the rookie Taylor has yet to play a snap, and Green is on the IR, though he’s on his way back.
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson remains the favorite to land his first MVP trophy at 2.00 odds on 888sports, but allowing Murray to come back and beat his Seahawks certainly didn’t help those chances, and while Wilson didn’t have a perfect game, a lot of the blame for the team’s first loss of 2020 can be laid at the feet of the defense.
Dunlap, 31, isn’t exactly in his prime, but at this point, Seattle will take anything they can get on defense as long as they can avoid squandering another brilliant campaign from Wilson.