On Monday, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll discussed his team needing to do more to affect opposing quarterbacks.
"It really comes down to generating pressure on the quarterback," Carroll said when discussing the defense struggling to get third-down stops. "… We have to make it more difficult on the quarterback by harassing him."
Two days later, the Seahawks acquired a player with a lengthy history of making life challenging for quarterbacks, adding two-time Pro-Bowl defensive end Carlos Dunlap in a trade with the Bengals. Pending physicals for the players involved, the trade will send offensive lineman B.J. Finney and a 2021 seventh-round pick to Cincinnati in exchange for Dunlap.
"We have a chance to bring in Carlos Dunlap to our team and give him a chance to help us in an area we've been talking about for some time," Carroll said Wednesday. "Carlos has been a very, very consistent player for a long time. He's always been fast, always been athletic, he still moves his feet well and gets off the rock and knows exactly how to play the spot that we want to play him in. Really it was exciting to share that with him, he was concerned to know how we would play him at all, so that that was a that was good for him to hear."
Dunlap, 31, has spent his entire career with the Bengals, who drafted him in the second round of the 2010 draft. He has started 115 of 155 games played, recording 82.5 sacks, 490 tackles, 20 forced fumbles, nine fumble recoveries, 60 passes defensed, and two interceptions, both of which he returned for touchdowns. And Dunlap's 6-foot-6 height can be a weapon when he doesn't get to the quarterback due to his ability to knock down balls at the line of scrimmage. According to Pro Football Focus, Dunlap has batted down 54 passes in his career, tied with J.J. Watt for the most in the league over the past decade. Dunlap has only one double-digit sack season, recording 13.5 in 2015, but he has recorded at least 7.5 sacks in eight of his 10 seasons prior to 2020, including each of the past seven seasons.
Carroll said the deal happened "in really rapid fashion" and noted that, like always, general manager John Schneider was looking into every possible option to improve the team ahead of next week's trade deadline.
"John's in on everything that he could possibly know about, and when there was an opportunity there he jumped on it to see if we could work something out," Carroll said. "We're always looking, and there's other guys that were out there that we've been looking at as well, in all spots, that are available—the names start to pop up here at this time of year. So this was one that fit exactly what we needed, and we're really pleased to get it done. Glad to bring a guy of Carlos' stature and background to this club. And I'm happy for him to come here, this is a great place to play, he's going to be excited about all of this."
The Seahawks are off to a 5-1 start, but have had their struggles on defense, allowing the most yards and passing yards in the league, and one of the issues has been a pass rush that has produced only nine sacks through six games. In last week's loss to Arizona, the Seahawks did not record a sack or quarterback hit on Kyler Murray, who attempted 48 passes. The Seahawks will bring in Dunlap hoping he, along with the return from injury of players like Jamal Adams and Rasheem Green, can help improve that pass rush.
Dunlap will play the LEO defensive end spot in Seattle's defense and is, as Carroll put it, "classically what you're looking for in an edge rusher."
Carroll pointed out that adding Dunlap should also help Benson Mayowa, who has been starting at the LEO spot, be more effective because the veteran end will be fresher not having to play as many snaps.
"It'll really help Benson a lot, and Alton Robinson too," Carroll said. "Those guys will all continue to rotate, and it will help us a lot to be able to keep us fresh. We know if we can keep Benson fresh without too many reps, he really can be effective for us. Hopefully that will happen from this point forward."
Dunlap will not be able to play this week due to the league's COVID-19 testing protocols, but should be able to practice next week and make his Seahawks debut when they play at Buffalo on Nov. 8.
Finney, a fifth-year veteran who signed with the Seahawks as a free-agent this offseason, came into camp as a candidate for the starting center job, but Ethan Pocic won that competition instead, and Finney has not played an offensive snap in six games this season.
The Seahawks already had limited draft capital in 2021 having sent their first and third-round picks to the New York Jets in exchange for Jamal Adams, but they did have an extra seventh-rounder, having acquired one, along with Quandre Diggs, for a fifth-round pick in a trade with Detroit last season.