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Seahawks DE Carlos Dunlap
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Seahawks have new complications with Carlos Dunlap after Watt’s deal

The Seahawks may find it harder to keep Carlos Dunlap thanks to J.J. Watt. (Getty)

The Arizona Cardinals’ signing of future Hall of Fame defensive lineman J.J. Watt impacts the Seahawks when it comes to protecting quarterback Russell Wilson, but it also makes things more difficult when it comes to the future of one of Seattle’s defensive standouts.

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Watt, a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year winner who turns 32 this month, signed a two-year deal with the Cardinals worth up to $31 million. How does that impact Seattle’s defense? Well, the Seahawks have to figure out what’s next for defensive end Carlos Dunlap.

Dunlap, who turned 32 on Feb. 28, is entering the last year of his deal and is set to make just over $14 million in 2021. Dunlap was traded to the Seahawks ahead of the 2020 trade deadline, and in eight games he recorded five sacks, helping Seattle’s pass rush finish seventh in the NFL in sacks with 46.

Dunlap’s current salary cap number has been seen as too high for some, however, especially as the cap is expected to decrease by roughly $15 million in 2021. Additionally, the Seahawks only have a few million in available cap space at the moment and have a lot of moves to make. Dunlap’s deal isn’t guaranteed, so the Seahawks could try extending him for a smaller cap number or they could release him and hope to sign him to a cheaper deal.

Now with Watt signing a deal worth more than $15 million a year, Jake Heaps of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy says releasing Dunlap with the hope of bringing him back may be off the table.

“I believe they have to do everything that they can to try and extend him and don’t let him test the open market because I don’t think you’ll see him back,” Heaps said.

Watt’s deal complicates matters for the Seahawks simply because Dunlap is going to shoot for that type of payday, and he very well could earn it.

“If you’re Dunlap, looking at J.J. Watt, you want a similar type of deal,” Heaps said. “You had more production than J.J. Watt in basically eight games that you played for Seattle than J.J. Watt had in 16 games.”

Watt had five sacks last year in a full 16-game season for the Houston Texans while Dunlap had the same amount in half that time for Seattle. Additionally, Dunlap has shown he can stay on the field, missing only three games since 2013. Watt, meanwhile, has missed 32 games since 2016.

“You’ve not been anywhere near as injury-prone as J.J. Watt has been in his career,” Heaps said of Dunlap. “So if I’m Carlos Dunlap, I want my money, I want the opportunity to earn a contract similar to J.J. Watt. So if the Seahawks don’t keep Carlos Dunlap at that $14 million cap hit, if they let him walk, the opportunity to re-sign him becomes extremely difficult.”

Listen to the conversation at this link or in the player below.

Follow Brandon Gustafson on Twitter.

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Jake & Stacy