How can Carlos Dunlap help the Carolina Panthers in 2022?
By Dean Jones
Carlos Dunlap is visiting the Carolina Panthers on Monday according to multiple reports, but how can the defensive end help the team in 2022?
One area where the Carolina Panthers haven’t strengthened all that much this offseason is their options at the defensive end spot. This is a surprise considering Haason Reddick left in free agency for the Philadelphia Eagles, with the former first-round pick making a substantial impression en route to 11 sacks during his one and only season with the franchise.
Yetur Gross-Matos and Marquis Haynes are expected to fill bigger roles next season. Much will also depend on whether or not Brian Burns can take another leap forward and join the elite category of defensive ends across the league.
Carolina’s depth remains a little thin. Something the Panthers are looking to rectify with a potential veteran addition before the team’s mandatory minicamp this week.
According to ESPN’s senior NFL insider Adam Schefter, the Panthers are bringing in Carlos Dunlap for a visit on Monday. The former second-round pick hails from South Carolina and even though the edge defender is in the twilight of his career, there was a lot to like about his production from a rotational role with the Seattle Seahawks in 2021.
In just 38 percent of the team’s defensive snaps, Dunlap managed to accumulate 8.5 sacks, 35 tackles, eight tackles for loss, seven passes defended, 14 quarterback hits, 21 pressures, and one forced fumble to secure an impressive 72.1 grade from Pro Football Focus. Stats that indicate the Florida product has something left in the tank at 33 years old.
This makes a ton of sense for Carolina. They also have enough salary-cap space to ensure that there are no complications from a financial standpoint if a formal offer becomes a reality.
Dunlap is a proven performer on the big stage who is just four sacks away from joining the 100-sack club entering his 13th season in the pros. This experience is something the Panthers don’t have at the defensive end position and his presence on and off the field could be worth its weight in gold.
At the very worst, Dunlap would be a nice rotational piece who could come in if Gross-Matos and Haynes don’t meet their objectives. If his impact is immediate, then a starting spot is not out of the question by any stretch.
Another area where Dunlap could assist is against the run. The Panthers found life difficult preventing big yardage on outside running plays last season and the two-time Pro Bowler has the discipline and knowhow to make his presence felt in this regard.
It’s good to see Carolina looking to address this need with enough time for any new arrival to acclimatize before training camp. Dunlap certainly ticks all the boxes and if the money and role work for both parties, then it could be a solid short-term signing.
Dunlap is a little long in the tooth, obviously. But the explosiveness was still there last season and if the Panthers end up signing the player and utilizing him in the correct way, it’s hard to envisage a scenario where he doesn’t make an impact.