When the Kansas City Chiefs hit the road this weekend to take on the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday afternoon, it will be the first time that Carlos Dunlap has returned to the city that drafted him since being traded to the Seattle Seahawks during the 2020 season.
Dunlap spent over 10 seasons with the Bengals after being drafted by them in 2010, but he didn't exactly leave on the best of terms. The now-Chiefs pass rusher saw his role decrease near the end of his time in Cincinnati, at which point he made it quite clear that he'd like to be traded.
Dunlap was eventually dealt to the Seahawks, but the awkward conclusion to his time with the Bengals left some fans with a sour taste in their mouths. Earlier this week, Dunlap's Kansas City teammate, Chris Jones, was sure to remind Dunlap of that.
"Me and him talked and I asked him, 'Carlos is this your homecoming?' He was like, 'Yeah, this is my first time going back since leaving," Jones recounted to the media on Wednesday. "And I was telling him how much they hate him over there. They felt like he left them when they were doing bad, and he jumped ship."
Dunlap was highly productive in Cincinnati, amassing 82.5 sacks (2nd in franchise history) and earning two Pro Bowl nods. Unfortunately, the Bengals didn't do a ton of winning during his time, going just 81-92 with no playoff wins from 2010-2020.
"Respectfully, he's done a lot for that organization," Jones continued. "He's probably one of the best (defensive) ends to play in that organization."
Now, for the first time in his 13-year NFL career, Dunlap is playing a vital role on a Super Bowl-caliber team. Dunlap is second on the team (behind Jones) with four sacks this season, and Jones is happy to be playing alongside him.
"We're very fortunate to have him in this room," Jones said. "The type of player and the caliber of player he is - we're glad he's on our side this time."
The Chiefs have been one of the most productive teams in the NFL at getting after the quarterback this season. Their 35 sacks currently rank fifth in the NFL. Now, they'll be facing the oft-sacked Joe Burrow, who's been sacked 33 times this season, the fourth-most among all quarterbacks.
That perfect storm could lead to another productive day at the office for the Chiefs' pass rush while also serving as a fruitful homecoming for Dunlap.