Heaps: J.J. Watt is great, but Seahawks don’t need him because of Carlos Dunlap

Feb 12, 2021, 1:49 PM

Seahawks J.J. Watt...

The Seahawks have the chance to sign star DL J.J. Watt in free agency. (Getty)


After a stellar 10-year run with the Houston Texans, star defensive lineman J.J. Watt has been granted his release and will be a free agent for the first time in his career. Playing alongside his brothers T.J. and Derek with the Pittsburgh Steelers will obviously be discussed in the coming days and weeks, but what about playing in Seattle for the Seahawks?

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The Seahawks’ pass rush has been up and down the last few years, to say the least. In 2018, Seattle was tied for 11th with 43 sacks, but took a huge dip after trading Frank Clark to Kansas City and finished second to last in sacks with 28 in 2019. In 2020, the Seahawks finished in the top 10 in sacks with 46, but most came in the second half of the season after a rough overall defensive start.

Watt, who turns 32 in March, entered the NFL in 2011 as a first-round pick and has earned five All-Pro and Pro Bowl nods as well as three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards.

From 2012 to 2015, Watt was far and away the best defensive player in the NFL, recording 69 sacks, 119 tackles for loss and 41 pass deflections. He led the NFL in sacks twice during that span and in tackles for loss three times. He recorded 20.5 sacks in both 2012 and 2014.

With an elite talent like Watt on the open market, should the Seahawks take a look at bringing the veteran to the Pacific Northwest? Former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy doesn’t think so.

“I think at this stage of his career, I think J.J. Watt is still a very good complementary football player who can make a lot of plays,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, he would be great to have. But I am concerned about J.J. Watt’s injury history and the fact that you already have a really good player in Carlos Dunlap.”

After dominating the NFL from 2012 to 2015, Watt has missed eight or more games three of the last five seasons due to various injuries. And while he recorded 16 sacks while playing in all 16 games in 2018 after playing eight games combined the previous two seasons, his 2020 season left a bit to be desired as he had only five sacks despite playing in each game.

Heaps also mentioned Dunlap, who the Seahawks acquired at the trade deadline from the Cincinnati Bengals. Dunlap came into the league a year ahead of Watt and has been extremely consistent overall. Plus, he played in all 16 games each year from 2013 to 2018, has played in 12 or more games every season and in 14 or more every year since 2012.

With the Seahawks, Dunlap recorded five sacks in eight games and was a catalyst for the defensive turnaround and played a huge part in the team finishing in the top 10 in sacks.

Dunlap is just a few weeks older than Watt, and will be turning 32 at the end of this month. At this stage of both their careers, Heaps thinks Dunlap, who is signed for one more year, is who he’d rather have on the Seahawks when comparing him to Watt. Overall, Watt has 101 career sacks in 128 games while Dunlap has 87.5 in 163.

“J.J. Watt has about the same sacks as Carlos Dunlap, but Dunlap has stayed healthier than J.J. Watt and I think that’s the biggest key when looking at aging players in the league,” Heaps said. “I don’t want to give big-time money to J.J. Watt only to see him on the sideline. I have more confidence that Carlos Dunlap will produce, be a leader and will stay on the field. ”

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Heaps: J.J. Watt is great, but Seahawks don’t need him because of Carlos Dunlap