THURSDAY, 7:50pm: The Raiders have officially signed Irvin, the team announced today (link via CSNBayArea.com).
WEDNESDAY, 9:03am: Irvin’s deal with the Raiders will be worth $37MM over four years, including $12.5MM in the first year, tweets Tom Pelissero of USA Today. The deal has a max value of $39MM if Irvin reaches certain Pro Bowl incentives, per Pelissero (via Twitter).
TUESDAY, 8:06pm: The Raiders have reached an agreement with linebacker Bruce Irvin, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Irvin, like all other unrestricted free agents, must wait until 3pm CT on Wednesday to officially sign.
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In Irvin and offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele (whom Oakland agreed to sign earlier today), the Raiders have added two of the league’s most coveted free agents — Irvin ranked sixth among PFR’s Top 50 free agents while Osemele ranked fourth. Oakland entered the free agent period with more than $60MM in available cap space, and thus far, they’ve put that money to good use, scoring impressive coups on both sides of the ball.
The Raiders had not been mentioned as a potential suitor for Irvin, so this signing is all the more surprising given that Oakland’s interest had not been reported. Rather, the Jaguars and Falcons — each of whom employ former Seahawks defensive coordinators as head coaches — were thought to be among the favorites to land Irvin, and a report earlier today tied the Cardinals to the edge rusher, as well.
Instead, Irvin will head to the Bay Area, where the Raiders are quietly assembling a solid defense to pair with an offense that is already full of young stars. Irvin will team with Khalil Mack, who posted 15 sacks last year, to form an imposing duo sure to put fear in opposing quarterbacks. Oakland needs more pieces on the defensive side of the ball, to be sure, but Mack and Irvin — along with solid role players like Dan Williams and David Amerson — are a nice start.
A former first-round pick, Irvin became a full-time starter during his sophomore campaign, and has started 37 contests since that time. His sack numbers aren’t eye-popping — he’s totaled just 12 sacks during the past two seasons — but he ranked as the league’s No. 18 linebacker in 2015, per Pro Football Focus. In a scheme different than the Seahawks’, where he’s one of the primary rushers, Irvin should be expected to top those sack totals.
As Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times notes (via Twitter), it’s possible that Ken Norton Jr.‘s presence on the Raiders’ coaching staff made a difference in Oakland being able to land Irvin. Norton Jr. — who is now Oakland’s defensive coordinator — was Irvin’s linebackers coach during his first three seasons in Seattle.
From the Seahawks perspective, losing Irvin is another reminder than a contending club can’t afford to keep everyone. After extending Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, and others on defense, Irvin was the odd man out, and Seattle seemed to know that it had no chance to retain Irvin — although, the Hawks could have kept Irvin for one more season had it exercised its fifth-year option.
Depending on the value of Irvin’s new deal with Oakland, the Seahawks figure to earn a compensatory pick (likely either in the third or fourth round) in the 2017 draft.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.