Seahawks boost pass rush, trade for Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap

©The Seattle Times

SEATTLE — In win-now mode and desperate to improve a defense that is on pace to allow more yards than any team in NFL history, the Seahawks on Wednesday agreed to trade for veteran defensive end Carlos Dunlap of the Cincinnati Bengals, giving up offensive lineman B.J. Finney and a 2021 seventh-round pick in the process.

A source confirmed the parameters of the trade to the Seattle Times.

The 31-year-old Dunlap has 82 1/2 sacks in his career — making him second in Bengals franchise history — and nine a year ago, but had been seeing decreasing playing time the last three weeks and had made it known he wanted out of Cincinnati, going so far at one point as to post a tweet saying his house was for sale following Sunday’s loss to the Browns.

The Seahawks were happy to oblige in giving Dunlap a fresh start — and a chance to play for a contender — in an attempt to shore up an ailing pass rush.

Seattle must pay Dunlap $4.8 million for the rest of the season, with the Bengals not willing to take on any of his salary, and his contract also includes a non-guaranteed $11.25 million for the 2021 season.

Getting rid of Finney and his roughly $2 million cap hit for the rest of the season will help the Seahawks fit in Dunlap, but it could mean Seattle having to shuffle some other money around — including bonuses due Dunlap, Seattle appears to be taking on an additional $3.4 million in cap space. The Seahawks entered the day with an estimated $3.7 million in salary cap space, via OvertheCap.com.

And Dunlap’s 2021 salary could lead to a renegotiated contract of some sort over the next year or so, or the Seahawks cutting Dunlap and getting out of the 2021 salary and considering this something of a half-year rental.

Either way, the immediate impact is bringing in a player the Seahawks hope can improve their defense right now.

The Seahawks are coming off their first loss of season, 37-34 at Arizona, a defeat that only accentuated the team’s defensive issues.

Seattle did not have a sack in the game and has just nine in six games, tied for 24th in the NFL, and did not register an official quarterback hit in 52 drop backs against Arizona and Kyler Murray Sunday night.

Dunlap played just 12 snaps in the Bengals’ loss to Cleveland Sunday and has not started the last three weeks with Cincinnati in a rebuilding mode. Rumors began to circulate early Wednesday of a trade when it was reported that the Bengals told Dunlap not to come to practice.

Because of COVID-19 testing protocols — which include a six-day intake period for new players — Dunlap will not be available to play for Seattle until its Nov. 8 game at Buffalo, meaning he will miss this Sunday’s game at San Francisco.

But that’s also one reason to make a move now, to get him in as quickly as possible.

The move comes a day after the Cowboys dealt defensive end Everson Griffen to Detroit, not Seattle, which led to wondering if the Seahawks were going to get anything done prior to the trade deadline next Tuesday.

The Dunlap move now marks the fourth major trade for a veteran in the past 12 months to try to improve a defense that has not been the same since the dismantling of the Legion of Boom during and after the 2017 season.

A year ago this month Seattle traded a fifth-round pick to Detroit for Quandre Diggs (Seattle also getting a seventh-round pick in 2021 that may be the one that was sent to the Bengals).

In the offseason Seattle traded a fifth-round pick to Washington for cornerback Quinton Dunbar and then made a major trade with the Jets to get safety Jamal Adams, including dealing each of its next two first-round picks.

Now comes Dunlap, a move needed in part because Seattle lost Bruce Irvin — its most significant free-agent signee as a pass rusher — for the year in the second game of the season due to an ACL injury.

Dunlap, listed at 6-6, 280, will likely be used at both end spots, having long been regarded as a good run defender and able to play well the five-technique, or strongside end, position as well as the LEO edge rush position.

Dunlap played at Florida and was a second-round pick of the Bengals in 2010. He made the Pro Bowl in 2015 when he had 13.5 sacks and again the next season when he had 15 pass defenses, eighth-most among all players in the league.

But after starting the first four games of this season, Dunlap came off the bench the last three weeks and after barely playing in a loss to the Browns Sunday he was seen getting into a heated discussion with position coach Nick Eason in the waning moments.

Pro Football Focus ranks Dunlap just 91st of 111 defensive ends this season with a pass rush grade 74th of 111.

But Dunlap was ranked third of 104 ends by PFF a year ago and it’s that player the Seahawks will now be hoping to get, with the compensation having made it worth the risk.

Finney had emerged as maybe Seattle’s most disappointing offseason acquisition. Signed to a two-year deal worth up to $8 million, the expectation was he would take over the starting center job after Seattle released Justin Britt.

Instead, he lost the job to Ethan Pocic, and then didn’t even emerge as a backup at guard, his other spot, with Seattle using Jordan Simmons and Jamarco Jones as replacements at guards when starters Damien Lewis and Mike Iupati have missed time due to injuries.

Finney had not played an offensive snap all season though he had been active for every game, playing 29 snaps on special teams.

Via PFF, Dunlap has played 186 pass rush snaps this season and has 13 total pressures, including 10 hurries, two quarterback hits and a sack.

He now joins a Seattle edge rush group that while without Irvin, should this week get back Rasheem Green, who is expected to come off IR after missing the last five games with a neck/stinger issue.

Without Green and Irvin Seattle has been starting Benson Mayowa and L.J. Collier at its two end spots with rookie Alton Robinson and veteran free agent Damontre Moore as the two main backups.

Via PFF, Collier has eight pressures in 132 pass rush snaps; Robinson has three in 60; Mayowa has 16 in 226; and Moore has four in 122.

Seattle had two seventh-round picks in 2021 due to the Diggs trade (it’s unclear which of the two is being dealt).

So that appears to leave Seattle with four picks remaining in 2021 — a second, fourth, fifth and seventh with the Seahawks not projected to get any extra picks as compensation for lost free agents.

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©2020 The Seattle Times