RENTON — Less than three weeks after being released in a salary cap move, Carlos Dunlap is returning to the Seattle Seahawks on a two-year deal.
Dunlap’s agent Drew Rosenhaus confirmed Thursday night the sides agreed on a new contract that is expected to be worth more than $16 million.
It’s a major victory for Seattle bringing back its top pass rusher on a day filled with news about its defensive line.
Earlier Thursday, the team officially announced the signing of free agent defensive end Kerry Hyder Jr., but also seemed on the verge of saying goodbye to veteran defensive tackle Jarran Reed. Reed tweeted a goodbye to Seattle fans amid reports he could be traded or released due to his contract situation.
Dunlap was released because Seattle desperately needed salary cap space and letting go of the pass rusher saved the Seahawks $14.1 million. But there was optimism about bringing Dunlap back to Seattle depending on what the free agent market yielded.
Dunlap, 32, was a major boost to Seattle’s pass rush following his midseason arrival in a trade from Cincinnati. He appeared in eight regular-season games for the Seahawks with five sacks and 14 quarterback hits. He was the spark for a Seattle pass rush that was among the better units 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 could not be reached.
Bringing back Dunlap and adding Hyder may finally keep Seattle from going into a season with pass-rush questions. Before the 2019 season, the Seahawks acquired Jadeveon Clowney from Houston to bolster the unit. Last year, Dunlap became the answer after Seattle’s defensive front struggled for the first half of the season.
Before being traded last season, Dunlap spent his entire career with the Bengals and was a Pro Bowl selection in 2015 and 2016. He had 46 sacks between 2015-19 and had eight sacks in 2019 for Cincinnati.
Hyder is coming off his best season after setting career highs in starts (14), sacks (8.5) and tackles (49). Injuries provided Hyder the opportunity to start for the 49ers and he responded with a standout performance.
Hyder was expected to be in a rotation with Nick Bosa and Dee Ford last season before injuries presented Hyder with more of an opportunity. He ended up playing nearly 70% of the defensive snaps last season.
Hyder’s best previous year came in 2016 with Detroit when he had eight sacks and 19 quarterback hits. Hyder played for Dallas in 2019.
Along with Hyder’s signing, the Seahawks are also expected to re-sign veteran Benson Mayowa. That should help address one of Seattle’s biggest needs in the pass rush.
While the pass rush off the edge may be solidified, it appears Reed’s tenure in Seattle could be over for now. Reed’s post on social media indicated a move — trade or release — would happen Friday.
Reed signed a $23 million, two-year deal last offseason with $14 million guaranteed. Reed started all 16 games last season and had 38 tackles and 6.5 sacks, the second-highest total of his career. The 28-year-old was a second-round pick by Seattle in the 2016 draft and has started 63 of 72 regular-season games played with the Seahawks.