It wasn’t exactly sour grapes, but LB Bruce Irvin offered a bit of a shot at his old Seahawks team Tuesday when he said would have never have reached his full potential had he stayed in Seattle’s defense instead of moving in free agency to the Oakland Raiders.
“I honestly felt like if I stayed in that system, I don’t think I ever would be the player that I think I can be in this league, and that’s being a pass rusher,” Irvin said in a SiriusXM NFL radio interview posted to the Raiders’ team site. “SAM outside linebacker is cool, but you can do your job the whole game at SAM linebacker and you’ll have two tackles.
“I just want to be utilized more and get put in positions more to make plays. I really think (coach) Jack Del Rio and (defensive coordinator) Ken Norton Jr. are going to do a great job of really allowing me to do that.”
It also helped Irvin see things differently when the Raiders gave him a four-year, $37 million deal with $19 million guaranteed. Had Seattle picked up his fifth-year option, he would have been paid $7.8 million for 2016.
“I haven’t even scratched what I know I can do, man,” he said. “Like I said, Seattle kind of limited me in that defense – and I did the best that I could do – but I haven’t scratched my surface. I’m far from it. I still have a lot more great years, and a lot more things that I have to prove.”
Irvin, 29, was drafted 15th out of West Virginia in the first round of the 2012 draft, considered by many talent scouts a reach because he had developed few pass rush moves beyond pure speed.
When he struggled some in his first season, despite eight sacks, and with the addition of top free agent defensive ends Michael Bennett an Cliff Avril, Irvin was asked to switch to strongside linebacker. He still managed 11.5 sacks combined over the past two season as he mixed in pass coverage with run-stopping duties.
But in his final game as a Seahawk, the 31-24 playoff loss at Carolina, Irvin made his “two tackles” point too well — he had not a single statistic for the game. Fellow linebackers K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner had 14 and 13 tackles, respectively.
That disappearance was not unique in Irvin’s career, but it obviously was of no concern to either the Raiders or Irvin.
“I’m really confident that the Raiders can really take this next step and take over the AFC West,” he said. “There’s some good football being played out there, but these guys, they’re hungry, man. I went in there to sign my contract last week and GM Reggie McKenzie) and all those boys, they’re hungry. You can see it. It’s just a great situation out there and I’m just happy I can be a part of it.”
Maybe if hunger is all that’s needed, the Raiders, 7-9 last season, are on their way. But a tackle or two from Irvin next season might be useful too.
Former Bears LB a possible Irvin replacement
Former Boise State star LB Shea McClellin was hosted on a free agent visit by the Seahawks Wednesday, according to an ESPN report.
The 6-3, 260-pounder was taken with the 19th pick in the 2012 draft by Chicago, four spots after Irvin. As with Irvin, he’s been a combo linebacker and rush end, leading the Bears with 81 tackles last season. He has 7.5 career sacks.