Bumpus: 3 pass rushers Seahawks can target if Carlos Dunlap doesn’t return
For the third offseason in a row, the Seahawks’ pass rush is a big question mark.
In 2019, the question was who would replicate Frank Clark’s production after he was traded to Kansas City. In 2020, the offseason was centered around whether or not Jadeveon Clowney would return to Seattle and, if not, who would take his starting job. And now this offseason, all eyes are on Carlos Dunlap, who the Seahawks released earlier this week in order to save $14 million worth of space under the salary cap.
Dunlap, 32, played exceptionally well with the Seahawks in 2020 after they acquired him midseason from the Cincinnati Bengals. He had five sacks in eight games and helped turn a struggling pass rush into one of the NFL’s best as Seattle finished seventh in the statistic last season.
The Seahawks reportedly want Dunlap to return for 2021, but there’s a chance that doesn’t happen as he’s shown he can be productive and durable throughout his career, which could put him out of Seattle’s price range in free agency.
Former NFL receiver Michael Bumpus said the Seahawks must do whatever they can to bring him back, but that “there are some Carlos Dunlap-type guys out there” Seattle could also consider in free agency, which officially kicks off next Wednesday, March 17.
“I’m not saying ‘Forget Dunlap, let’s go after these guys,’ but there are more fish in the sea,” Bumpus said.
So if the Seahawks and Dunlap don’t reunite, Bumpus has three pass rushers the team should target to replace him in 2021.
Like Dunlap, Justin Houston is 32 years old and coming off a productive 2020 campaign. After starring for the Kansas City Chiefs from 2011 to 2018, Houston has played well for the Indianapolis Colts over the last two seasons, including an eight-sack campaign in 2020.
When it comes to Houston’s skillset, he’s a physical guy who goes right after opposing offensive linemen.
“Just a motor guy that relies on the bull rush,” Bumpus said. “A strong guy. Not very skilled, but he gets going and brings an intensity that I saw out of Carlos Dunlap.”
Houston has 97.5 career sacks, including a 22-sack season for Kansas City back in 2017.
Unlike Dunlap and Houston, Okwara is a younger guy as he turns 26 in June. And while Dunlap and Houston were higher draft picks, going in the second and third rounds of their draft classes, respectively, Okwara went undrafted in 2016.
After spending two seasons with the New York Giants, Okwara was claimed by Detroit, where he emerged as a capable pass rusher. He had 7.5 sacks in 2018 and enters free agency after making 10 sacks in 2020, bringing his career total to 20.
“I really like this dude from Detroit,” Bumpus said. “This guy makes the athletic play. Half of his sacks are him reaching over a (blocker), grabbing (the quarterback’s) jersey and yanking him down. He fires off the ball, he plays with an intensity I like and he’s skilled. As I said, he’s super athletic.”
If Okwara’s name sounds familiar, it may be because his brother, Julian, was seen as a potential Seahawks draft target in last year’s draft. Julian Okwara ended up joining his brother in Detroit after the Lions selected him in the third round.
Carl Lawson, like Okwara, turns 26 in June. Lawson also is similar to Okwara in that they both enter free agency with 20 career sacks.
Lawson entered the NFL a year after Okwara as a fourth-round pick by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2017, meaning he was Dunlap’s teammate for three full seasons plus part of last year. Lawson had 8.5 sacks in his rookie campaign, which he has yet to replicate. He had 5.5 last season.
While Houston and Okwara are more finished products, Bumpus thinks Lawson needs some fine tuning going forward.
“I like the kid,” Bumpus said, albeit with a caveat. “This is a guy who’s developmental,”
Listen to Bumpus’ thoughts at this link or in the player below.