Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar was placed on the NFL commissioner’s exempt list Monday, meaning he will not be with the team when it opens training camp this week.
Dunbar lands on the list after being arrested in May on four felony counts of armed robbery in connection with an incident in Miramar, Florida. Dunbar and two other men — including New York Giants cornerback DeAndre Baker — were alleged to have taken roughly $73,000 in jewelry and cash at a party that featured a dice game. Baker was also placed on the league’s exempt list.
On the exempt list, Dunbar will not count against Seattle’s roster for now and is, essentially, indefinitely suspended, unable to practice or play in games, though he can report to the team facility and take part in some activities — such as meetings, individual workouts, rehabilitation and therapy — if given clearance by the team.
Dunbar’s attorney, Andrew Rier, said in a phone interview with The Seattle Times that Dunbar will file an appeal.
Rier said the basis of the appeal, which must be filed within 72 hours, is that Dunbar has not been formally charged in court, which he says is counter to what the NFL said in its statement announcing the news.
“He has not been formally charged in the state of Florida, he has only been arrested,” Rier said, noting there has been no indictment.
“Quinton stands innocent and is contesting every charge,” Rier said. “And I am confident there will be a favorable resolution and Quinton Dunbar should be allowed to play in the NFL.”
Rier said “the Seahawks, I believe, fully support the decision” to appeal.
Rier said Dunbar — who had earlier this month gotten approval from the state to travel for work — was getting ready to board a plane to Seattle on Monday to report to the opening of training camp Tuesday when he got word from the NFL.
For now, Dunbar will remain in Florida in the hopes the appeal will be successful, Rier said.
Here’s the official wording of what the list entails:
“The Exempt List is a special player status available to clubs only in unusual circumstances. The List includes those players who have been declared by the Commissioner to be temporarily exempt from counting within the Active List limit. Only the Commissioner has the authority to place a player on the Exempt List; clubs have no such authority, and no exemption, regardless of circumstances, is automatic. The Commissioner also has the authority to determine in advance whether a player’s time on the Exempt List will be finite or will continue until the Commissioner deems the exemption should be lifted and the player returned to the Active List.”
Prosecutors are still determining whether to go ahead with the case. All cases have been stalled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, making it unclear if or when there will be a next step in the legal process.
Dunbar was acquired by Seattle from Washington in March for a fifth-round draft pick with the expectation he would step into the starting spot at right cornerback.
Now, that spot will apparently return to Tre Flowers — for as long as Dunbar is on the exempt list, anyway, which might be until a decision is made that charges will not be filed.
Flowers started at that position the past two seasons.
Dunbar has one year remaining on his contract, due to make $3.25 million this season while counting $3.4 million against the salary cap.
Dunbar will continue to be paid while on the exempt list, and he will continue to count against the cap.
While Dunbar has not gone to trial, the NFL holds wide latitude in levying punishment.
Seahawks defensive tackle Jarran Reed was suspended for six games last season following an allegation of domestic assault, though he was not charged.
Dunbar going on the exempt list puts Seattle’s roster at 80 players heading into the official beginning of training camp Tuesday, which is the limit for a team to be able to gather in one group (all teams will have to be down to 80 by Aug. 16).
After being charged with the four felony counts in May, Dunbar took a few days off from taking part in the Seahawks’ virtual offseason program.
But he later returned and coach Pete Carroll had expressed optimism in June at Dunbar being part of the team this season.
“He’s been very open with the discussions of what’s taken place and the whole process going on,” Carroll said. “I don’t have the details of where that is right now. We can’t comment on that anyway. We have been very much connected with him and what is next and all of that.
“We are following along with him. He is back and participating with us and focusing real well. We’ll see what happens with that.”
Dunbar emerged to be viewed as one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL in 11 games last year with Washington. Unhappiness over his contract led Washington to field trade offers for him before pulling off the deal with Seattle.
Dunbar’s suspension leaves the Seahawks with 10 cornerbacks on the roster.
That number includes Flowers and left cornerback Shaquill Griffin, projected now to be the starting duo heading into the season.
Seattle also re-signed veteran Neiko Thorpe and returns Ugo Amadi, who ended his rookie season a year ago as the team’s primary nickel cornerback.
Others on the roster include Brian Allen, Ryan Neal, Jayson Stanley and three undrafted rookie free agents — Gavin Heslop, Debione Renfor and Kemah Siverand.