That “Whewwwwww” you heard Thursday was a collective sigh of relief from Seahawks fans as John Schneider finally secured an ace pass rusher who was more than a desperation rental.
The return of Carlos Dunlap was everything Seattle needed this offseason – easily the best move Schneider has made in the past two years, let alone the past two weeks.
Schneider has been patching his pass rush ever since trading Frank Clark in April 2019. He tried with Ziggy Ansah and Jadeveon Clowney that year, then moved on to Bruce Irvin and Benson Mayowa last year, before finally landing Dunlap in a lucky desperation trade.
It took releasing Dunlap, letting him see the market and then letting Jarran Reed go to bring him back. But at least Schneider finally locked in an ace pass rusher for a couple of years.
Dunlap is the guy they needed. He saved the Seattle defense upon his arrival at midseason, keying a surge that took Seattle from among the worst pass-rushing teams to among the best by the end of the season. He had five sacks in his eight games and opened up rush lanes for Reed and others.
Reed is collateral damage in this move, bringing back $9 million in cap space. It was no surprise. We always thought he might be traded this offseason, due to his big cap hit. Unfortunately, the Seahawks got nothing for the talented D-tackle, who had 6.5 sacks last season (most of them after Dunlap arrived).
The Hawks weren’t going to pay Reed what he wanted in an extension, because he is a secondary player. They apparently are counting on L.J. Collier and Rasheem Green providing inside pass rush, which should be easier with Dunlap and new addition Kerry Hyder on the outside.
Former Seattle star Cliff Avril, who knows a thing or two about sacking quarterbacks, recently talked about the need to add a veteran rusher or two to help youngsters Alton Robinson and Darrell Taylor along. Well, the Seahawks added three in two days: Dunlap, Benson Mayowa and Hyder. That trio tallied 19.5 sacks in 37 aggregate games in 2020.
That sets up a strong rotation and also takes pressure off Jamal Adams, who got beat up getting his 9.5 sacks in 2020. Pete Carroll and Ken Norton Jr. really need to protect him this year, and this strong pass rush group should allow the coaches to pick their spots more with Adams.
Adams joined his fellow Pro Bowl safety Quandre Diggs and Russell Wilson in cheering Dunlap’s return.
Dunlap, 32, will be with the Hawks for two years, which should be enough for him to hit 100 career sacks. He has 87.5.
After the season, he said, “My two goals are still a Super Bowl and 100 sacks, and I have not accomplished either one of them. I haven’t won a playoff game. I think we have the pedigree here to do all of that next season, and I would love to be a part of it.”
It took a couple of weeks, but he is indeed going to be a part of it — and that’s great news for the Seahawks.