Cincinnati Bengals: 30 greatest players in franchise history

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /
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Carlos Dunlap, Cincinnati Bengals
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player. 56. . DE. (2010-present). Carlos Dunlap. 17

  • 2x Pro Bowl (2015-16)
  • Franchise leader in quarterback sacks (64.5)
  • 13.5 quarterback sacks in 2015
  • 16 career forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries
  • 118 career games, 81 starts with Bengals

Like his teammate in quarterback Andy Dalton, defensive end Carlos Dunlap is quietly putting up the numbers as one of the best at what he does for the Bengals. While Dalton slings the pigskin, Dunlap drives passers into the turf.

Dunlap was one of the best defenders to play at the University of Florida under then head coach Urban Meyer. A DUI arrest cost Dunlap a chance at playing in the 2009 SEC Championship Game. Florida would lose to eventual BCS National Champion Alabama in that game, but Dunlap was ready to move on to bigger and better things in his football career.

Seen by many as a no-doubt, first-round talent, Dunlap fell to the Bengals at No. 54 in the 2010 NFL Draft. Dunlap fit in marvelously right away in Mike Zimmer’s Bengals defense, as he had 9.5 quarterback sacks as a rookie in 2010. This broke Justin Smith’s record of 8.5 for a rookie set the decade prior.

With Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green arriving a year later in 2011, Dunlap’s pass-rushing prowess grew as well. He has never been below 4.5 quarterbacks in any of his eight professional seasons. Though he is consistently in that six-to-eight range, Dunlap had a monstrous 2015 campaign.

Dunlap’s breakout season in year six saw him gather 13.5 quarterback sacks. That would be the fifth year in a row that the Bengals made the AFC playoffs. He made his first of two career trips to the Pro Bowl so far. Dunlap certainly was a huge part of the Paul Guenther defense the last few years.

Consistency and availability has led Dunlap into being the Bengals’ franchise leader in quarterback sacks at 64.5. To be fair, his teammate in defensive tackle Geno Atkins, who we will get to eventually, is only a shade off Dunlap’s pace at 61.0. Together, they have given the Bengals’ front-seven some much-needed bite to stay in the mix for playoff contention.

2018 will be Dunlap’s age-29 season. This will also be the last year of his five-year extension he signed in 2013. Dunlap could leave Cincinnati in 2019 free agency. However, his first eight seasons have been as good as advertised for the promising pass rusher coming out of Florida. It’ll be interesting to see how he performs in Teryl Austin’s defense now that Guenther has joined Jon Gruden’s staff with the Oakland Raiders.