SEATTLE — During his brief separation from the Seahawks in a move to create salary cap space, Carlos Dunlap sought assurances from one player before he considered returning to Seattle on a new contract.
Dunlap was paying attention to the drama surrounding Russell Wilson and he wanted to know what the QB’s future looked like.
“I did ask him if, obviously, he was going to be with us,” Dunlap said Tuesday. “Because if I’m coming back, I’m coming back because I see him as my quarterback and the rest of the team. I want to pick up where we left off, and he told me that he’s with us and he’s here to stay.”
With that settled, Dunlap quickly re-signed last month once the Seahawks made an offer. It’s a two-year deal expected to be worth more than $16 million. The contract lowered the salary cap implications for the Seahawks this season and landed Dunlap back where he wanted to be.
Still, it took a couple of weeks of uncertainty before the Seahawks understood their cap situation and Dunlap had an idea of what other teams — mostly contenders, he said — were willing to offer.
But clearly Seattle was his preferred destination.
“Obviously, we started fielding and entertaining all the other teams that were interested in calling,” Dunlap said. “And then Seattle called and it was where I wanted to be. The true explanation of that is how we were able to get the deal done within 24 hours.”
Dunlap, 32, provided a major boost for Seattle’s pass rush following his midseason arrival in a trade from Cincinnati. He appeared in eight regular-season games for the Seahawks, totaling five sacks and 14 quarterback hits, and was the spark for a pass rush that was among the best in the league over the second half of the season.
But his salary for 2021 was always going to be a point of contention, especially with Seattle lacking cap space. When the trade was made, Seattle agreed to let Dunlap test free agency if an extension that would soften the blow against the cap could not be reached.
Dunlap said Seattle was transparent from the start about the situation, but it was still strange to be released.
“When it actually happened, yeah, it still hit different because I’ve never been cut before,” Dunlap said. “But they were still very transparent. They wanted me to know that they wanted me back, this was one of the moves they had to make because of the situation they were in.”
Dunlap will be part of a defensive front that’s seen some changes since the start of free agency. Starting defensive tackle Jarran Reed was released and signed with Kansas City, but the Seahawks brought back Benson Mayowa and Al Woods, extended Poona Ford and signed Kerry Hyler Jr.
Dunlap is hopeful the defensive line group can pick up where it left off last season.
“I just feel like the sky is the limit because I feel like we were able to accomplish some great things last season in such a short period of time,” Dunlap said. “I just want to build on that, and I wanted an opportunity to build on that. I’m grateful I get an opportunity to do that.”
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