Most observers are giving John Schneider major kudos for once again filling a big roster hole by taking advantage of another team’s dysfunction.
The trade for Carlos Dunlap – Schneider’s third October deal in four years — certainly was needed, and Schneider did well to get it done for a mere seventh-round pick and overpriced backup center B.J. Finney, as Cincinnati clearly was eager to get rid of Dunlap. (The GM would do better to add another pass rusher, too.)
But let’s not forget this is the continuation of an ongoing theme: The Seahawks were in this mess because Schneider created it – and then failed to fix it until now, maybe only for now.
In 2018, with Cliff Avril heading to injury-forced retirement (with Kam Chancellor), Schneider and Pete Carroll decided to trade Michael Bennett. That left Frank Clark as the only outside rusher (Dion Jordan and Quinton Jefferson didn’t help much).
Then, in 2019, Schneider got an offer from Kansas City that was too good to turn down, so he traded Clark. First-round pick L.J. Collier and former Detroit star Ziggy Ansah — Schneider’s attempts to replace Bennett and Clark — both were hurt as the season approached, so Schneider took advantage of Houston’s contract squabble with Jadeveon Clowney.
Clowney had some impact games but struggled through an injury after Week 10, and then he didn’t like Schneider’s $16 million offer (which was a valiant effort by the GM).
Schneider ended up eschewing moves for guys like Robert Quinn, Dante Fowler, Yannick Ngakoue and Everson Griffen — settling on Bruce Irvin and Benson Mayowa instead. Schneider then traded up for injured pass rusher Darrell Taylor in the second round.
Schneider and Carroll thought that trio would be good enough. It was a gamble that did not pay off – and put Schneider in a position where he needed to make yet another move to fill a roster void, like he did with Sheldon Richardson and Duane Brown in 2017, Clowney and Quandre Diggs in 2019 and Quinton Dunbar earlier this year (Jamal Adams was a luxury trade, like Percy Harvin and Jimmy Graham).
Fair or not, Dunlap will be expected to pull Seattle’s pass rush out of the gutter. Carroll said he will play LEO: “This is an outside guy. He’s classically what you’re looking for as an edge rusher. … Carlos has been a consistent player for a long time.”
Since he became a starter with Cincy in 2013, Dunlap has averaged nine sacks, 25 QB hits, 11 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles per season. He had a big game (a sack, two TFL, a QB hit, seven tackles) against the Seahawks last year as the Bengals nearly pulled a season-opening upset.
Ken Norton, Seattle’s beleaguered defensive coordinator, said the 11-year veteran should be good for Seattle’s young pass rushers: “We have a young group here that would certainly benefit from having a veteran like that on the team. As you’ve seen in the games, we need as much pressure, as much pass rush, as we can get right now …”
Here’s how bad Seattle’s pass rush has been: Adams has missed half of Seattle’s games and yet is still the team co-leader in sacks (two, with Mayowa). The pass rush has tallied just nine sacks and ranks 25th in the NFL in pressure rate. Seattle recorded no hits on Arizona QB Kyler Murray and pressured him one time in 48 dropbacks. Yeah, he’s a quick little guy, but those are pathetic numbers. Dunlap is here to change them.
At 6-6 and 285 pounds, Dunlap could rush from either end spot and even slide inside, a la Bennett. The top pass rush group eventually figures to be Dunlap, Mayowa, Green and Jarran Reed. (Will Schneider try to add Takk McKinley or Ryan Kerrigan to the mix as well?)
Beyond this season, the question is whether the 31-year-old Dunlap might be the next Duane Brown – a veteran star who merits an extension and plays three or four years in Seattle.
Ideally, he will fix the pass-rush problem for two or three years beyond 2020, with the hopes that Taylor, Alton Robinson, Collier and/or Green grow up while playing with him. If he somehow doesn’t help the Hawks and is not worth keeping – either at his scheduled $11.1 million for 2021 or on a new deal — the Hawks can let him go with no cap ramifications.
Of course, then Schneider would yet again be left looking for a top-notch pass rusher.