Bruce Irvin

Bears Promote LB Irvin, Move LB Marsh To IR

Bears’ linebacker Bruce Irvin has been activated to the active roster after Chicago signed him to their practice squad in mid-November. Irvin saw his first game action of the season last week as a temporary call-up in the Bears’ loss against Arizona.

The ten-year veteran has bounced around a bit since 2018 despite showing pretty consistent success throughout his career. There have only been two seasons in which Irvin failed to amass 5.5 sacks – 2013, when he missed the first four games of the season with a suspension, and 2020, when he suffered a torn ACL in Week 2. In his most recent full season, with the Carolina Panthers two years ago, Irvin tallied a career high 8.5 sacks. After his successful year in Carolina, the pass rusher signed up for a second stint with the Seahawks, who drafted him. He tore his ACL and remained on the sidelines until last week’s return to the field. Chicago will hope to see a return to form for Irvin as the team has missed the production of Khalil Mack opposite Robert Quinn. Mack has been on IR for the last three weeks after under-going foot surgery.

In a corresponding move, the Bears have placed Irvin’s former teammate from Seattle, Cassius Marsh, on injured reserve. Marsh was signed to the Bears practice squad about two weeks before Irvin’s arrival. In four games of action this season, Marsh had totaled 1.0 sack and 6 tackles.

Bruce Irvin Signs With Bears

Bruce Irvin has found his next gig. The veteran linebacker has signed with the Bears, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter). Irvin confirmed the signing himself on Twitter.

Irvin made a name for himself back in Seattle, collecting 22 sacks between the 2012 and 2015 seasons. He later spent two-plus seasons with the Raiders (adding another 18 sacks), and after finishing the 2018 campaign with the Falcons, Irvin compiled another 8.5 sacks with the Panthers in 2019.

Irvin returned to Seattle prior to the 2020 season, and he started each of the team’s first two games. However, he suffered a season-ending ACL tear, and he’s remained unsigned throughout the entire 2021 campaign.

Now 34, Irvin will have a tough time replicating the pass-rushing prowess he displayed earlier in his career. However, he will add some reinforcement to a banged up Bears edge. Khalil Mack missed the Bears two games prior to their Week 10 bye, and his foot injury has lingered into this week. However, the team is optimistic that the former Defensive Player of the Year will be able to play this weekend.

Top Remaining Pass Rushers

A team can never have too many pass rushers. Even as quarterbacks around the league try to get the ball out of their hands more quickly, the emphasis that most offenses put on their aerial attacks ensure that quality edge defenders will continue to be among the NFL’s most desirable commodities and, therefore, among the highest earners. As we sit in the middle of the lull between OTAs/minicamp and the start of training camp, let’s take a look at where things stand with a few of the highest-profile pass rushers that are still on the market.

  1. Justin Houston: Houston, one of the most fearsome pass rushers in the league during his heyday with the Chiefs, just finished up a two-year contract with the Colts. He is no longer a First Team All-Pro talent, but he was still plenty productive in Indianapolis, at least from a raw statistic standpoint. He averaged 9.5 sacks per year over his two Colts campaigns, and though Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics were not high on his work in 2020 – he received middling grades in both run defense and pass rush – the 32-year-old would be an asset to most any pass rushing corps. The only two teams really connected to him this offseason, the Ravens and the incumbent Colts, both added edge defenders in the first round of this year’s draft (Indy also invested a second-round choice on DE Dayo Odeyingbo). However, Baltimore’s first-round edge, Odafe Oweh, may be a little green, and the club lost Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue to free agency this offseason. As such, the Ravens may still be in the mix, and there are surely other teams monitoring the situation.
  2. Melvin Ingram: Like Houston, Ingram is 32, but unlike Houston, he is dealing with some health concerns. The longtime Charger earned three consecutive Pro Bowl nods from 2017-19, but knee problems limited him to just seven games in 2020. In those seven contests, Ingram failed to record a single sack, and given the lack of reporting on his knee, it’s fair to wonder if he is 100% healthy. He took a pre-draft visit with the Chiefs, and KC might still be interested, especially given Frank Clark’s recent legal trouble. Ingram also visited with the Dolphins after the draft, and while Miami selected uber-talented edge defender Jaelan Phillips with the No. 18 overall pick, the club also released LB and locker room favorite Kyle Van Noy. Plus, Phillips has a troubling medical history of his own, so there could be room in South Beach for another established pass rusher with leadership abilities. It is encouraging that Ingram’s PFF pass-rushing score of 76.3 was a top-20 mark, even if the sample size of snaps was comparatively small.
  3. Everson Griffen: Griffen’s free agency stay in 2020 lasted until August, when he inked a one-year deal with the Cowboys. Even though Dallas was still very much in the running for the historically weak NFC East, the club dealt Griffen to the Lions in advance of the trade deadline. The four-time Pro Bowler tallied six sacks across 14 games split between Dallas and Detroit, earning a 73.6 pass-rushing mark from PFF in the process (good for 25th out of 108 qualifiers). Now 33, Griffen is probably best utilized as a situational pass rusher at this point, but he could do well in such a role. While there has been no reported interest in his services this year, his recent history suggests that he is content to wait until late summer for the right opportunity to present itself.
  4. Olivier Vernon: Vernon, who will turn 31 in October, came to the Browns in 2019 as part of the blockbuster Odell Beckham trade. He lost six games to injury in his first Cleveland season and managed only 3.5 sacks. He was a candidate to be traded or released last offseason as the team flirted with Jadeveon Clowney, but ultimately he agreed to a paycut to remain with the Browns for 2020, the last year of his previous contract. He picked up nine sacks in 14 games – he has not played a full 16-game slate since 2016 – and while three of those sacks came against an injury-ravaged Eagles O-line, advanced metrics continue to be high on him. Pro Football Focus considered him the 20th-best edge player in the league last year, a grade that incorporated identical (and strong) 71.6 marks for his run defense and his pass rushing acumen. Unfortunately, he suffered a torn Achilles in the regular season finale, which is probably why there have been no reports of interest in him to date (and why he is not higher on this list). Depending on his prognosis, he could be an intriguing late summer or in-season add for any number of clubs.
  5. Bruce Irvin: Irvin suffered a torn ACL in Week 2 of the 2020 season, which he and the Seahawks had hoped would represent a successful second stint in Seattle. The ‘Hawks made him the No. 15 overall pick of the 2012 draft, which was generally viewed as a reach at the time, but the West Virginia product has put together a lengthy and productive NFL career. In his lone season with the Panthers in 2019, Irvin posted a career-high 8.5 sacks, and before his two-game campaign last year, he hadn’t posted a single-season sack total of less than 5.5 since his second pro season in 2013. At 33, he is the oldest player on this list, but assuming he has not faced any setbacks in his recovery, he should be ready to roll by the start of the 2021 season, or close to it. He might have a hard time getting much by way of guaranteed money, but he should certainly have an opportunity to continue his playing career if he wants to. But he may not want to. In March, Irvin posted a tweet that said, “I think it’s time,” which many obviously construed to be a hint that he was hanging up the cleats. There hasn’t been anything concrete, though, so his playing status is still unclear.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/23/20

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here:

New York Jets

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

Tennessee Titans

Seahawks LB Bruce Irvin Has Torn ACL, Will Miss Rest Of Season

5:00pm: NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport has confirmed the news (via Twitter). Irvin has a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the season.

1:20pm: Unfortunately it looks like Bruce Irvin‘s 2020 return to Seattle will last only two games. The Seahawks fear the veteran outside linebacker has a torn ACL, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

More tests are needed to confirm but since field tests for ACLs are extremely accurate, it’s all but certain. It’s a tough blow for a Seahawks team that has looked great with a pair of victories through the first two weeks. The pass-rush was already one of the few question marks remaining with this team, so this is the last thing they needed.

Irvin came back to Seattle on a one-year deal worth $5.5 million back in March. He spent last year in Carolina, where he racked up 8.5 sacks in 13 games. A first-round pick of the Seahawks back in 2012, Irvin spent the first four years of his career with the team.

He was a huge part of some of their legendary defenses, winning Super Bowl XLVIII with them. Despite producing at a fairly high level the Seahawks declined his fifth-year option, and he signed a four-year $37MM deal with the Raiders.

Cut after 2.5 seasons, he landed with the Falcons for the second half of 2018 before signing with the Panthers. He’ll turn 33 in November and will be coming off an ACL tear when he hits free agency, so he’ll likely struggle to find much guaranteed money next spring.

West Notes: Chiefs, Irvin, Amukamara

The Chiefs moved on from their longest-tenured player this offseason, jettisoning 15-year punter Dustin Colquitt. Although the team with Patrick Mahomes negotiations looming and Chris Jones attached to a franchise tag created cap space by cutting Colquitt, the defending Super Bowl champions also identified his potential successor in its UDFA class. Chiefs ST coordinator Dave Toub said (via the Kansas City Star’s Herbie Teope, on Twitter) he rated rookie UDFA punter Tommy Townsend as this draft class’ best punter. Twice a semifinalist for the Ray Guy award, Townsend punted at Florida after transferring from Tennessee. The Chiefs signed both Townsend and 2019 UDFA Tyler Newsome this offseason. Toub’s glowing assessment of Townsend almost certainly gives him a leg up in this competition.

Here is the latest from the West divisions:

  • Bruce Irvin had his eye on a Seahawks reunion for a while. The former Seattle first-round pick texted Bobby Wagner during the playoffs he wanted to come back (via the Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta, on Twitter). Irvin also confirmed he will be playing linebacker in Seattle’s base defense while shifting to an edge-rushing role on passing downs, Condotta adds (via Twitter). This was the expected arrangement. The Seahawks used their base defense considerably last season but have not re-signed Mychal Kendricks. Irvin functioned in this versatile capacity during most of his first Seahawks stint.
  • Prince Amukamara will take a considerable pay cut to join the Raiders. The veteran cornerback signed a one-year, $1.05MM deal, per Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Amukamara will qualify for the new minimum salary benefit, counting only $888K against the Raiders’ cap. The Bears re-signed Amukamara in 2018, and he was set to make $9MM in base salary on that contract this season.
  • Frank Clark played a role in bringing Taco Charlton to Kansas City, per Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). Charlton’s ex-teammate and roommate while at Michigan, Clark lobbied Chiefs DC Steve Spagnuolo in an effort to bring the former first-round pick to Kansas City. The Chiefs did not claim Charlton’s rookie contract but did add him at a cheaper rate. Charlton called his departure from Dallas and Miami “mutual,” according to Pelissero (via Twitter). Both teams waived the 2017 first-rounder, the Dolphins doing so despite Charlton leading the team in sacks last season with five. Charlton figures to fill a rotational role vacated by the exits of Emmanuel Ogbah and Terrell Suggs.
  • Despite Bashaud Breeland being arrested on several charges earlier this offseason, he has been part of the Chiefs’ virtual offseason since it began, Spagnuolo said (via NFL.com’s James Palmer, on Twitter). Re-signed on a one-year deal, Breeland will likely face a suspension for his arrest — which included the charge of resisting arrest.

NFC West Notes: Rams, Irvin, 49ers, TE

Clay Matthews will file a grievance against the Rams over more than $2MM in unpaid guarantees, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. Todd Gurley, however, will not submit one, per ESPN.com’s Vaughn McClure. Gurley is owed a $7.55MM roster bonus, though offset language from his Falcons deal can reduce that to nearly $5.05MM, per McClure. The Rams, who released both players in March, said each player will receive his respective bonus payment. But the team believes neither payment is due for some time. Matthews’ two-year Rams deal included a $5.5MM guarantee, and Fowler adds that his contract contained $2MM in offset language. That would explain the reason for the delay. The Rams are likely waiting to see if another team will end up signing the veteran pass rusher. That would save the Rams the $2MM.

Here is the latest from the NFC West:

  • Despite Bruce Irvin having lined up as a defensive end in his four seasons away from Seattle — with the Raiders, Falcons and Panthers — the Seahawks are listing him as an outside linebacker. Going into the draft, the team viewed Irvin as an option to play off the ball in base sets before lining up as an end on passing downs, per Brady Henderson of ESPN.com (on Twitter). But the Seahawks used a first-round pick on Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks and possess a greater need at defensive end. Irvin did, however, play this hybrid role for the bulk of his first Seahawks stint.
  • Although the 49ers drafted Georgia tight end Charlie Woerner in the sixth round, he projects as more of a blocking tight end. The team is looking to add a receiving tight end to play behind George Kittle, Matt Barrows of The Athletic notes (subscription required). UDFA Ross Dwelley filled in for Kittle while he missed time due to injury last season, but the ex-San Diego Torero averaged just 6.1 yards per reception on 15 grabs. The top free agent available is former 49er Delanie Walker, but the Titans released him after two injury-marred seasons. Jordan Reed, who played under Kyle Shanahan with the Redskins in 2013, may be a name to monitor as well. But Reed has dealt with numerous injuries during his career.
  • With the 49ers trading Matt Breida, their backfield group looks clearer. Once rumored as a trade candidate, Tevin Coleman now appears a lock to be back with the 49ers in 2020, Barrows adds. Coleman and special-teamer-turned-breakout back Raheem Mostert are almost certain to return, with the 49ers still rostering Jerick McKinnon and Jeff Wilson. McKinnon will be the obvious wild card, given that he’s missed two full seasons.

Seahawks To Bring Back DE Bruce Irvin

After four seasons away from Seattle, Bruce Irvin is set to return to the team that drafted him. The Seahawks and Irvin agreed to terms on Wednesday, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter).

A 2010 first-round Seahawks pick, the veteran defensive end has ventured to the Raiders, Falcons and Panthers in the years since. Now 32, he will come back to the Pacific Northwest.

The veteran linebacker joined the Panthers last offseason, and he proceeded to start 12 of his 13 games. Despite playing in his fewest number of regular season games since 2013, Irvin still finished the campaign with a career-high 8.5 sacks. He also added 36 tackles and one forced fumble.

This signing probably doesn’t take Seattle out of the running for Jadeveon Clowney. We learned earlier today that the pass rusher has been disappointed by his market. The Seahawks have made an effort to keep him and the feeling is that their offer could be the best he gets.

Panthers To Sign Bruce Irvin

The Panthers have agreed to sign Bruce Irvin, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. It’s a one-year, $4MM that can reach up to $5MM with incentives, a league source tells Jourdan Rodrigue of The Observer (on Twitter). 

[RELATED: Panthers Meet With OL Jermon Bushrod]

The Panthers were in desperate need of pass rush help after losing Julius Peppers to retirement. Now, Irvin will team up with Mario Addison and the rest of the group to try and generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Adding Irvin is a big step forward for Carolina, but you can expect the Panthers to scour the free agent market for further upgrades while targeting others in the draft.

Irvin split the 2018 season between the Raiders and Falcons and finished out with a combined 6.5 sacks. Irvin, 32 in November, has 43.5 sacks to his credit across seven NFL seasons with roughly half of those takedowns coming in Seattle.

Previously operating as Khalil Mack’s sidekick, Irvin registered 15 sacks between the 2016-17 seasons. But, following the Mack trade in 2018, things soured between Irvin and head coach Jon Gruden, leading to Irvin’s release in November.

49ers Pursued DE Bruce Irvin

The 49ers “went hard” after free agent Bruce Irvin after he was released by the Raiders, according to Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area (Twitter link). Irvin ultimately signed with the Falcons, but San Francisco was one of roughly 10 clubs that inquired on the veteran defensive end, per Maiocco.

Irvin on Wednesday told Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com both the Steelers and Patriots offered him more than the $1.5MM he’ll collect from Atlanta, while reports also indicated the Seahawks expressed interest in adding Irvin. But the 31-year-old preferred to return home to his native Atlanta, so any other proposals weren’t all that attractive.

On paper, the 49ers are something of a curious fit for Irvin, as they’re certainly not in contention for a playoff berth with a 2-7 record. San Francisco, which ranks eighth in adjusted sack rate but just 17th in pressure rate, also has a young crop of rushers available on the edge, including Arik Armstead and Solomon Thomas, so Irvin wouldn’t have been looking at a full complement of snaps.

However, if the 49ers believe they’ll need additional edge defenders in 2019, they may have been interested in signing Irvin for something of a trial run. Irvin should already be familiar with San Francisco’s scheme (it’s similar to the defense he ran with the Seahawks earlier in his career), but the 49ers could have gotten a chance to see how he fits into the club’s front. Irvin only signed a one-year deal with the Falcons, so San Francisco could certainly target him when he hits the open market again next spring.