Carlos Dunlap has been wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks for a long time in Cincinnati.
The two-time Pro Bowler has been a disruptive force on the field and a wonderful role model off of it, and is likely to get a contract extension soon for both reasons.
But if 2018 does end up being Dunlap’s last season in stripes, he can still establish himself as the most accomplished pass rusher in franchise history.
Weight: 280 pounds
Hometown: North Charleston, S.C.
Experience: Ninth-Year Player
Dunlap is entering the final season of his five-year $39.37 million contract. This season he is set to make around $7 million while accounting for $7.3 million against the Bengals cap. The Bengals wouldn’t be hit with any dead cap if they parted ways with Dunlap, but that’s obviously not expected to occur.
Dunlap is set to be a free agent following the 2018 season, but the Bengals have maintained that Dunlap’s contract extension is one of their highest priorities.
Dunlap had a lot to offer as a draft prospect, but there were plenty of questions as well. His production at Florida was solid, but some scouts believed he had more to give.
Size and athleticism were Dunlap’s strengths, but his technique needed significant refinement. There were also concerns about his work ethic, along with a DUI arrest caused some to doubt his character. This allowed the Bengals to snatch him up with the 54th pick overall.
Obviously all of those supposed concerns are laughable now. Dunalp came in and set the Bengals’ rookie sack record with 9.5 sacks, and has progressed into one of the best all-around edge defenders in the league. He has become a leader along the defensive line, and not to mention he has been nominated and won several awards and acknowledgments for the work he and his charity does throughout the year.
Dunlap now has 64.5 sacks in his eight seasons as a pro. He is only 19 away from the Bengals’ all time record, and will have to fight off his partner in crime Geno Atkins for that as well. And there’s no reason to think either player won’t eventually surpass that mark.
Despite his greatness, Dunlap has only managed to reach double digit sacks once in his career. With a new defensive coordinator in Teryl Austin, who is committed to being more aggressive in his scheme, it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see Dunlap eclipse the 10 sack mark for the first time since 2015.
Dunlap will see plenty of one-on-one match ups with Geno Atkins and Carl Lawson also regularly rushing the passer, so he will have to prove he is worth the money the Bengals will be giving him eventually.
There is virtually no chance the Bengals part ways with Dunlap before the season or even after. The way the team talks about his extensions shows he is viewed as one of the foundation pieces for the team going forward.
Roster odds: 100 percent