One of the top remaining defensive free agents could be close to finding his next NFL team. Carlos Dunlap is visiting the Panthers, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). Dunlap’s visit is expected to encompass both Monday and Tuesday, USA Today’s Josina Anderson tweets.
The 33-year-old finds himself on the open market for the second straight offseason, having been released by the Seahawks. A second consecutive reunion with Seattle was said to be on the table in March, but there has been little reported interest on that front since. Dunlap showcased his continued ability to get to the quarterback in 2021, posting 8.5 sacks despite playing a rotational role.
As part of the team’s overall youth movement, Seattle signed Uchenna Nwosu in free agency, who profiles as a better scheme fit in its new 3-4 defense. That pointed to Dunlap heading elsewhere, though he has remained under the free agent radar both before and after the draft.
As a North Charleston native, a deal with the Panthers would represent a homecoming for the two-time Pro Bowler. Carolina lost a major element of their pass rush when Haason Reddick departed in free agency. Dunlap would likely help to fill that void, given his production last year being reminiscent of his time in Cincinnati. The Panthers also drafted Amare Barno in the sixth round in April.
While Carolina’s edge group will be led by Brian Burns regardless of if Dunlap signs or not, the 12-year veteran would have a role to play on his third NFL team. On, presumably, another short-term deal as his career winds down, Dunlap could add an experienced presence to a team looking to take significant steps forward in 2022.