The Bengals finally ended the Carlos Dunlap saga Wednesday when they traded the disgruntled defensive end to the Seahawks for offensive lineman B.J. Finney, as well as a seventh-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Though Dunlap was expected to be moved one way or another, the Bengals did well in managing to get something back for him. While he wasn’t being used much in recent weeks, it’s still a big shakeup on the roster, especially now that the Bengals have an extra offensive lineman, as that unit has easily been the team’s biggest weakness this season.
Now, here is a look at the biggest winners and losers from this deal.
Amani Bledsoe and Khalid Kareem
With Dunlap now gone, the Bengals figure to give more snaps to backup defensive ends Khalid Kareem and Amani Bledsoe, two guys who don’t even have two full seasons of NFL experience. Though Dunlap’s role had been diminishing in favor of the two young guys, the veteran was still averaging 23 snaps per game over the last three weeks.
Bledsoe is in his second season after spending 2019 with the Titans. He began this season on the practice squad but has played in all seven games this season with three starts.
Kareem, a fifth-round rookie by way of Notre Dame in this year’s NFL Draft, will now get more snaps and hopefully help speed up his development now that Dunlap is gone.
Recently-signed Margus Hunt also figures to benefit somewhat from this since he’ll play both defensive tackle and on the end, but the big winners were the two young ends who now have nine games to show what they’re really made of.
It’s been a rough start to Zac Taylor’s head coaching career, and that’s putting it lightly. The last thing he needed was one of the biggest voices to divide the locker room, and that’s what Dunlap’s antics could have eventually done if they weren’t already.
Taylor is already facing an uphill climb to string together some wins over the second half of the season and save his job. Now that the Dunlap distraction is gone, it’s one less thing he’ll have to overcome with a team that is still fighting hard, but that may have not lasted much longer had Dunlap remained potentially divided the locker room.
One of the last people you’d think would be hurt by Dunlap being traded was an offensive lineman, but that’s exactly what happened to Billy Price. The Bengals were able to get center B.J. Finney from the Seahawks, and while he was a backup, he was a solid player for the Steelers during his four-year career there, including 13 starts.
To put it bluntly, Finney was just better in Pittsburgh than Price has ever been in Cincinnati. Will that continue with a new coaching staff for Finney remains to be seen, but this trade definitely puts Price in danger of falling further down the depth chart and eventually out of Cincinnati.
While Finney is more likely to be a backup, it’s not out of the question he eventually unseats Trey Hopkins as the starter. Hopkins has been an average-to-below-average starter for the Bengals for three years at center, and Finney played well enough in Pittsburgh that it wouldn’t be a shocker to see him become a slight upgrade over Hopkins.
Making matters worse for Hopkins is he has a concussion, and it’s unclear how long he’ll be out. The good news for him is NFL COVID-19 protocols will prevent Finney from playing this week against the Titans. But he will get to practice with the Bengals during their Week 9 bye before ironically facing the Steelers in Week 10.
Price wasn’t going to unseat Hopkins, but there’s a chance Finney eventually can.
While it was good that the Bengals could get anything back in a trade for Dunlap, this is still a bad look for a franchise that once again has watched an all-time franchise great leave on bad terms.
Dunlap will go down as one of, if not the greatest pass-rusher this franchise has ever had. But in the end of his Bengals career, he was doing everything in his power to force a trade out of Cincinnati.
It’s a very sad way to watch Dunlap’s career in stripes come to an end. A seventh-round pick and a backup lineman isn’t going to change that.
Carlos Dunlap’s sack record*
The Bengals’ all-time sack record* is a complicated one. Prior to Dunlap’s arrival in Cincinnati, Eddie Edwards was the franchise’s all-time sacks leader with 47.5 officially recorded, but all of those came from 1982-1988. That’s because the NFL did not begin recognizing sacks as an official statistic until the ‘82 season. That means sacks recorded during his first five seasons are not ‘officially’ part of his career total.
However, the Bengals still have Edwards listed as the all-time sacks leader at 83.5.
The guy right behind him?
Carlos Dunlap, who ends his Bengals career with 82.5 sacks, one short of leaving no doubt who the all-time sacks leader was.