Coming off a stellar eight-game audition, the Seahawks would like to keep Carlos Dunlap in the Pacific Northwest beyond 2021. But contrary to initial reporting, the team has not yet engaged in extension talks, clouding his future with the team.
Per a source, Dunlap and his representatives had maintained ongoing dialogue with Seattle in recent weeks about a multi-year extension. But two additional sources with close knowledge of the situation refuted that information, indicating that while the organization still hoped to re-sign him, they have not been in active talks about a new deal to this point.
An 11-year veteran, Dunlap currently has one year remaining under contract and carries an expensive $14 million cap hit in 2021. The prevailing thought coming out of the season was that he would want to test free agency for the first time in his career and based on these latest developments, that seems to be the most likely outcome. He's set to receive a $3 million roster bonus on March 21, which creates further urgency for the franchise to make a move in coming days.
Acquired via trade from the Bengals on October 28 in exchange for center B.J. Finney and a 2021 seventh-round draft choice, Dunlap made an instant impact for the Seahawks, producing a sack in his team debut during a 44-34 loss to the Bills. In eight regular season games, he produced 14 quarterback hits and 5.0 sacks, including a game-ending fourth down sack of Cardinals star Kyler Murray in Week 11.
Over the final six regular season games, the Seahawks made a 180 degree turn on defense in large part due to a bolstered pass rush headlined by Dunlap. The former Florida star generated 4.0 sacks of his own during that time and only the Cardinals produced more sacks as a team to close out the season. Among those who benefited most from his arrival, defensive tackle Jarran Reed had 5.0 sacks in the final nine games and also had a pair of sacks in the postseason.
Though Dunlap turned 32 in February, multiple sources confirmed Seattle doesn't want to lose the veteran pass rusher after trading Frank Clark and not re-signing Jadeveon Clowney each of the past two offseasons. Without an extension, the team may have to cut him due to limited cap space, but re-signing him to a new deal would remain a top priority with only second-year defensive ends Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson under contract.
With only 11 days until free agency, roster movement across the NFL is expected to ramp up as teams scramble to create cap space at the last minute. Quiet up to this point aside from rumors surrounding their franchise quarterback, the Seahawks should be far more active moving forward and it remains unclear what will happen with Dunlap before his roster bonus is due later this month.