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The case for/against Raiders keeping Bruce Irvin

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NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Oakland Raiders Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Some decisions must be made this offseason by the Raiders. One of them is whether to bring back linebacker Bruce Irvin. He finished the 2017 season with 58 tackles, 8 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, 3 passes defensed and 4 forced fumbles. But his uncertain status is based mostly on the fact that for most of the season he was completely non-existent.

The Case for

It wasn’t just Irvin, but the entire defense that was nearly non-existent up until Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton Jr. was let go. Immediately upon John Pagano taking over, Irvin became a force, notching 5.0 sacks in his first 3 games after posting only 2.5 the first 10 games of the season. The question new Head Coach John Gruden and new DC Paul Guenther will have to answer is was it Norton not utilizing Irvin properly or is Irvin simply not a pass rusher.

Based off of the way the entire defense elevated it’s play after the departure of Norton, it would appear he was the main problem. However Jack Del Rio is said to have also had a large hand in the defense and should shoulder some of the blame. With both Del Rio and Norton gone will new DC Paul Guenther be willing to give Irvin another year opposite Khalil Mack?

Since arriving as a free agent from the Seattle Seahawks prior to the 2016 season, Irvin has been one of the Raiders defenses few playmakers, including having been responsible for a total of 10 forced fumbles over the last 2 seasons. The next highest on the team during that span is Khalil Mack with 6 — 5 of which came in 2016.

With a lack of talented playmakers on the defense outside of Khalil Mack, the Raiders can’t afford to lose a player like Irvin who creates turnovers. For perspective the Raiders entire defense had a total of 14 takeaways last season, Bruce Irvin was responsible for 4 of those.

The Case Against

Outside of a handful of games last season he wasn’t really much of a factor. Despite his 5-sack outbreak after the firing of Norton he virtually disappeared after those 3 games notching only a half sack the final 3 games.

Putting up 8.0 sacks in a season is solid on most teams as a 2nd option, however lining up across from Khalil Mack, Irvin should be posting double digit sack numbers. Mack was double and triple teamed all season in large part because Bruce Irvin was not doing anything to generate pressure. Irvin would be a nice 3rd pass rush option but the Raiders need more from a secondary pass rush option to free up Mack.

Irvin’s struggles this season led to Mack — the 2016 Defensive Player of the Year —posting his lowest sack total since his rookie season. While Mack still posted 10.5 sacks they were all of his own sheer will as he had almost no help from anyone including Irvin for much of the year. Simply stated if Mack is getting double and triple teamed Irvin or whoever is across from him should be winning their 1 on 1 match-ups more often.

A 7 to 8 sack guy may be Irvin’s ceiling as his numbers are almost identical to last season in every category. If that is the case then the Raiders should consider either moving on from Irvin or reducing his salary from the current $8 million. Then the Raiders could go after a free agent or draft an Edge player to line up across from Khalil Mack.

If they keep Irvin he counts $8.25 million against the cap with no dead money should they decide to move on. Has he done enough to stay?


Should the Raiders keep Bruce Irvin?

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  • 25%
    (627 votes)
  • 53%
    Yes, but look for an upgrade
    (1310 votes)
  • 20%
    (499 votes)
2436 votes total Vote Now