It is official. The Cincinnati Bengals got an absolute steal by re-signing defensive end Carlos Dunlap to a six-year, $40 million deal ($11.7 million guaranteed). Why should the Bengals be thrilled to lock down Dunlap for years to come? It is because the 24-year-old has already been a dominant player over the past three years and his potential to be one of the best defensive ends in the league is limitless.
“It’s not an ordinary deal by far. I haven’t really started for the Bengals yet. I feel like my best football is in front of me as long as I stay healthy,” Dunlap said, according to Bengals.com. “I still plan on having that big season. I haven’t had it yet, or close to it since my rookie year. I will top that and I still have all of these goals ahead of me. That’s going to be my drive … you always want to want more and more.”
The 6’6”, 280-pound defensive lineman has recorded 87 total tackles, 20 sacks, four forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and one interception returned for a touchdown in 38 career games. His performance during his rookie season that he is referring to consisted of 24 total tackles and 9.5 sacks. However, last year is when he posted his overall top-notch performance.
The fact is Dunlap is still a very young player who has plenty to learn. He is eager to soak up all the knowledge the coaches have to teach him and is eager to demonstrate the ability to be an every-down player.
There is no question $40 million is a lot of money to give to a young defensive end. However, Dunlap has shown the ability to be a difference maker as a pass rusher, which is something every successful team has on their roster.