A few days ago, Bruce Irvin appeared to suggest that he was hoping to sign with the Falcons when he becomes a free agent at the end of the 2015 campaign. The Seahawks recently declined to exercise Irvin’s fifth-year option, thereby making the former first-round pick eligible for free agency when this season ends. As our Luke Adams pointed out, the Falcons are a good fit for Irvin, an Atlanta native who would (presumably) reunite with former Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and who would give the team a much-needed pass rusher.
But Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, speaking with reporters prior to his induction into the USC Athletics Hall of Fame on Saturday, claims Irvin’s comments were misinterpreted. Irvin had told Black Sports Online, “I’m going to be in Atlanta next season. I’m ready,” and “Atlanta is where I want to be. Believe that.” According to the Associated Press, Carroll tried to clarify those remarks by saying:
“We’ve been talking all along. [Irvin] has been working out in Atlanta for these three weeks, and he said (that) in response to the question ‘Do you want to come back home?’ He said everybody likes to come back home, and it’s a dream to come back home. It wasn’t in reference to leaving us and coming back (to the Falcons). He was really adamant about it, and I asked him to leave it and not go at it anymore.”
Carroll’s statements look like a valiant but unsuccessful attempt to quash the minor controversy that Irvin has created, and Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report has found some humor in that attempt. Freeman tweeted, “Carroll: No, no, no. Bruce Irvin didn’t say he wanted to go to Atlanta. He said he wanted to go to the city of Atlantis.”
According to Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required), Irvin has graded out as one of the league’s top 4-3 outside linebackers in each of the past two seasons. Interestingly enough, however, it was his run-stopping abilities that made him the 11th-most effective at his position out of 40 eligible players in 2014, as his pass rush efforts earned a meager grade of -2.1. In 2013, though, he received above-average grades in both areas, and he has posted 16.5 sacks in his three seasons in Seattle.
Of course, the mere fact that the Seahawks declined Irvin’s fifth-year option does not mean that Irvin will not continue his career in Seattle beyond 2015. But with the Seahawks having to make a number of difficult personnel decisions in the near future, including a long-term deal with Russell Wilson, Irvin may indeed wind up playing his home games elsewhere. Despite Carroll’s comments, Atlanta still appears to be the top choice.