Heaps: Seahawks would have best pass rush since ’13 — if Dunlap re-signs

Mar 24, 2021, 1:10 PM
Seahawks Carlos Dunlap...
Carlos Dunlap had five sacks in eight games following a trade to the Seahawks. (Getty)

After some uncertainty with the pass rush, the Seahawks reportedly added two veterans to the 2021 roster out of free agency Tuesday in Benson Mayowa and Kerry Hyder Jr.

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Mayowa had six sacks for the Seahawks last year while Hyder was one of the San Francisco 49ers’ better defenders in 2020, piling up 8.5 sacks while making 14 starts.

Former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps called himself a “big fan” of both of the reported moves Wednesday on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy, saying he thinks both Mayowa and Hyder can be great pieces for the Seahawks’ defense in 2021.

“Mayowa is a leader in the defensive line room, he helps set the standard and he is an excellent, excellent situational pass rusher,” Heaps said. “… If he’s in that role where he’s at his best, which is playing somewhere between 25 to 35% of the snaps, that’s where Benson Mayowa is at his best and will be most effective.”

As for Hyder, who stands 6 foot 2 and weighs roughly 270 pounds, Heaps thinks it’s easy to see why the Seahawks went out and signed him to a reported three-year deal.

“He will come in and be the starting five-technique at the defensive end position,” he said. “Hyder has a relentless motor, he’s football smart, he’s instinctive and he’s a Swiss army knife who is wildly disruptive at that five-technique or defensive tackle position, which he will play both (of).”

By re-signing Mayowa and adding Hyder to the pass rush mix, Heaps sees the Seahawks accumulating great depth on the defensive line, which hasn’t been the case in Seattle for quite some time.

“What you could find yourself in a position of is going back to the years of 2013 and 2014 where you had a famous pass-rushing unit,” Heaps said. “You had specialists to come in and sub in and be a nightmare for quarterbacks on third downs and pass-rushing situations.”

The 2013 and 2014 seasons were, of course, the years the Seahawks went to back-to-back Super Bowls, winning the first one.

In addition to Mayowa and Hyder, the Seahawks have 2020 rookies Alton Robinson and Darrell Taylor, as well as 2019 first-round pick L.J. Collier and Rasheem Green at defensive end. At defensive tackle, the Seahawks have Jarran Reed, Poona Ford and Bryan Mone. That equates to nine defensive linemen who Heaps sees as “locks” to make the 2021 roster. Typically, Heaps said, the Seahawks carry 10 defensive linemen.

So who should that 10th man be? Heaps thinks the Seahawks need to reunite with Carlos Dunlap, who had five sacks in eight games for Seattle last season after a midseason trade but was released prior to free agency as a salary cap casualty. Prior to Dunlap’s arrival in 2020, the Seahawks had just 12 sacks in seven games. In nine games after that, Seattle had 34, which was tops in the NFL in that span and resulted in the Seahawks finishing seventh in the league in sacks with 46.

By reportedly signing Hyder and Mayowa, some have speculated that the door appears to be closed on the 32-year-old Dunlap returning to Seattle in 2021. Heaps doesn’t think that is the case, nor does he think it should be.

“This market has not been kind to aging defensive ends,” Heaps said. “Carlos Dunlap is still wildly successful and I think he’s worth a $10-plus million type of deal, but he’s not going to get it, and (according to a number of) league sources who I’ve talked to, they say that his market is somewhere between $6 to $8 million. And that’s very reasonable in this market right now for the Seahawks to be able to add.”

If the Seahawks are able to re-sign Dunlap, Heaps thinks the veteran defensive end will be the “headliner” of a pass rush that could be one of the best in the NFL and that the defensive line could be the best line the Seahawks have had since they won the Super Bowl eight years ago.

“That will put them in a position, legitimately, to strike fear in the division, strike fear in the NFC,” he said. “And it puts them in a position as a defensive unit to have the best pass-rushing depth they have had since 2013 … (Pairing Dunlap) with Benson Mayowa, Darrell Taylor, Hyder Jr., you would have a very, very prominent defensive line and pass-rushing rotation. And you know that L.J. Collier, Rasheem Green and Hyder Jr. for that matter can slide down and be versatile and play defensive tackle from time to time.”

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