The hapless and helpless Oakland Raiders pulled a mean prank on Bruce Irvin. They told the edge defender they planned to cut him Saturday. And then they didn’t.
Irvin was not listed on Saturday’s NFL transaction wire, which means he won’t be set free until Monday at the earliest. Then he’ll have to pass through waivers since it’s after the NFL trade deadline. But once he’s available, and once he’s passed through waivers, the New England Patriots would be smart to add him to their 53-man roster.
Irvin has three sacks, one quarterback hit and six hurries so far in a down year. He’s a season removed from an eight-sack, seven-QB hit and 25-hurry year and two seasons removed from a seven-sack, 17-QB hit, 32-hurry season.
Irvin isn’t an elite pass rusher, but he’s better than many of the pieces currently on the Patriots’ roster.
If Irvin is claimed on waivers, his new team would have to take on a $3,764,706 cap hit. That’s a little pricey. But if the Patriots could sign him to a smaller one-year deal, then he’d certainly be worth adding to the front seven which has had trouble finishing with sacks this season.
The Patriots currently rank 30th in sack percentage and 29th in sacks per game. They’re getting pressure, but finishing clearly has been a major problem.
The Patriots currently roster Trey Flowers, Kyle Van Noy, Deatrich Wise Jr., Adrian Clayborn, Keionta Davis, Derek Rivers, John Simon and Geneo Grissom at edge defenders. They have Van Noy, Dont’a Hightower, Elandon Roberts and Nicholas Grigsby as off-the-line linebackers. Irvin has played both roles in the NFL, and the Patriots have needs at both positions.
Wise, Davis, Rivers and interior rusher Adam Butler, all of whom came into the NFL in 2017, have had trouble finding consistency this season. Simon is a journeyman who has been banged up as a Patriot.
If the Patriots could rush Flowers, Van Noy, Clayborn and Irvin on third down, that could threaten some opposing offensive lines more than their current unit.
Irvin also played strong-side linebacker early in his career with the Seattle Seahawks. In Week 8, Hightower sat out with a knee injury, moving Van Noy back to inside linebacker. When Roberts suffered an injury during the game, Grigsby, a special-teamer, had to play on defense. That was less than ideal.
Irvin would give the Patriots some valuable versatility if a situation like that arises again. Say Hightower and Roberts go down again. Van Noy and Irvin, rather than Van Noy and Grigsby, could play off the line.
Adding Irvin at midseason would be similar to moves the Patriots have made in the past. They traded for Akeem Ayers in 2014 and Van Noy in 2016. They signed James Harrison late last season when the Patriots had a dire need for pass rushers.
The Patriots’ edge is in better shape this season. But Irvin still would be an upgrade. Wise, Davis and Rivers still have potential for the future, but eight weeks into the season, it’s not quite shining through consistently enough.
The Patriots love edge defenders who can rush or drop back in coverage. Irvin fits the mold.
Is Irvin a must add? No, certainly not. He’d be a luxury. But when he comes available, the Patriots would be crazy not to look into adding him for the stretch run.