ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has a group of largely young and inexperienced pass rushers under his charge, so adding 12-year veteran defensive end Carlo Dunlap is seemingly the ideal fit for a lineup in need of production and depth.
“I’m always happy to add big, long guys, right, that have experience, that played in the league,” Spagnuolo said after Thursday’s practice.
Spagnolo met with Dunlap Wednesday night at the team’s training camp on the campus of Missouri Western State University. Dunlap continued meetings and a medical exam on Thursday morning before agreeing to terms on a one-year deal worth a reported $8 million. Detailed terms of the contract were not immediately available.
Defensive tackle Chris Jones trained in the offseason in Miami with Dunlap, describing him as “a high-character guy.” Jones added his resume speaks for itself in terms of leadership and production.
“I’ll accept Carlos with open arms,” Jones said. “I think he’s a veteran guy that has a lot of experience in this league. To have a veteran guy like that in this position group, I think it would be remarkable.
The Chiefs opened training camp with veteran Frank Clark and third-year Mike Danna as their starters at defensive end. The group behind them features three players who have never appeared in an NFL game: first-round draft choice George Karlaftis, undrafted 2021 rookie free agent Malik Herring and NFL International Pathway Program player Kehinde Oginni Hassan. Joshua Kaindoh played in three games as a rookie last season while another new arrival Azur Kamara has only nine games under his belt as a reserve. The most experienced backup is Shilique Calhoun, who is entering this sixth season and has collected 2.5 sacks in 51 NFL games with one start.
The addition of Dunlap would allow the Chiefs to scale back the workload for Clark, who turned 29 last month and played 659 defensive snaps (72%) a year ago. Less work for Clark could improve his efficiency, as it appeared to do last year for Dunlap while providing opportunities for Karlaftis and Danna as well.
Jones said Dunlap should also infuse much-needed experience into the team’s defensive line group.
“We’ve got a young group this year,” Jones said. “Fairly young to me, I’m one of the older guys in the group. I think he brings a lot of experience, he can bring a lot of wisdom to the group. We also can influence the group with his leadership ability.”
Dunlap played a reserve role for the first time in his career last season in Seattle, playing 481 defensive snaps (38%) in 17 games. He still proved a productive player with 8.5 sacks and 35 tackles. Pro Football Focus didn’t credit him with a single missed tackle last season.
With Karlaftis expected to challenge Danna for the starting position opposite Clark, how Dunlap fits in remains to be seen, according to Spagnuolo.
“I’ll be honest with you, I do know something about the player just from afar, but until we get him in hand and find out where we can use him,” Spagnuolo explained, “and that’s exactly what I told him last night when we talked.”