Seahawks release DE Carlos Dunlap as salary cap casualty

Mar 8, 2021, 10:21 AM | Updated: 2:18 pm
Seahawks Carlos Dunlap...
Carlos Dunlap had five sacks in eight games following a trade to the Seahawks. (Getty)

If the Seahawks are going to have Carlos Dunlap lead their pass rush again next season, they’ll have to sign him back out of free agency.

After ’20 trade rumors, could Seahawks land Yannick Ngakoue now?

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Monday morning that the Seahawks planned to release Dunlap, a move that is not all that surprising given the situation the team is facing regarding the NFL’s shrinking salary cap. Dunlap’s release was made official Monday afternoon.

Dunlap, 32, carried a salary cap hit of over $14 million for 2020, though the fact that it was not guaranteed made him a prime candidate to be a cap casualty. He joined the Seahawks last year in a midseason trade from the Cincinnati Bengals, agreeing to rework his contract for the remainder of the 2020 season. ESPN’s Field Yates reported at the time that Dunlap was $4.59 million after the trade but cut it down to about $2 million.

The Seahawks’ struggling pass rush was revived after the acquisition of Dunlap. Not only did he have five sacks in eight games with Seattle, but the Seahawks rose up the team ranks in the second half of the season to finish seventh in the NFL with 46 sacks.

While there was speculation that the Seahawks would try to sign Dunlap to a contract extension that would lower his salary cap number for 2021, it appears that by letting Dunlap loose on the market they have the hope of bringing him back on a cheaper deal. That could be easier said than done, however, especially after J.J. Watt signed with NFC West rival Arizona for $15 million a year last week.

According to the story about Dunlap’s release, the 11-year NFL veteran “agreed to restructure his contract last year in order to facilitate the trade with the understanding that he would get to test free agency if he and the Seahawks couldn’t agree to a contract extension.”

The NFL salary cap is set to go down by roughly $15 million from last year’s $198 million following the entire 2020 season being played during the pandemic. The Seahawks have under $5 million in cap space, per OverTheCap’s estimate, and with over 20 players hitting free agency, they clearly need to free up money to make sure they can address all the positional needs they will have this offseason.

Brock Huard, NFL on FOX color commentator and 710 ESPN Seattle host, spoke last week about why the chances were high that Dunlap would be released due to Seattle’s salary cap issues. You can read what he had to say here.

Follow Brent Stecker on Twitter.

Russell Wilson situation has Hawks in unfamiliar, unsettling position

Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks Marcus Davenport...
Brandon Gustafson

Huard: How this draft class’ strength can help Seahawks in free agency

Because the 2023 draft is loaded with pass rushers, Brock Huard says there's history to show the Seahawks can take advantage in free agency.
1 day ago
Seahawks Will LEvis...
Brandon Gustafson

Seahawks Draft: Kentucky PxP explains why Will Levis’ comp is Josh Allen

Mel Kiper has the Seahawks taking Kentucky QB Will Levis. Kentucky announcer Tom Leach shares why Levis draws comparisons to a top NFL QB.
2 days ago
Seahawks Kenneth Walker III...
Brandon Gustafson

Bumpus: Where Seahawks RB Kenneth Walker shined, needs to improve

Former NFL WR Michael Bumpus breaks down what Seahawks rookie RB Kenneth Walker III did well and needs to improve on heading forward.
2 days ago
Seahawks Geno Smith...
Stacy Rost

Why an ESPN host thinks it’s a no-brainer for Seahawks to re-sign Geno

When it comes to Seahawks QB Geno Smith, ESPN host Max Kellerman thinks it's an easy decision for Seattle to re-sign him this offseason.
2 days ago
Seahawks Ohio State Dawand Jones...
Brandon Gustafson

Seahawks Draft: All-American Dawand Jones an OL to consider

If the Seahawks want to add another big guy to their offensive line in the draft, Brock Huard likes Ohio State's Dawand Jones.
2 days ago
Seahawks draft Julius Brents...
Brandon Gustafson

Seahawks Draft: The CB who could be this year’s Tariq Woolen

Kansas State's Julius Brents is a cornerback in this NFL Draft class who is in the mold of Seahawks star Tariq Woolen, Brock Huard says.
3 days ago
Seahawks release DE Carlos Dunlap as salary cap casualty