The team that hasn’t rushed the passer drafted a promising pass rusher in Round 1 and could be poised to land a semi-proven one no later than next spring. Bruce Irvin, who has had 16 1/2 sacks in three seasons with Seattle, told Samuel Logan of Black Sports Online: “I’m going to be in Atlanta next season.”
Technically, Irvin was in Atlanta when he spoke those words Wednesday night. He was at Philips Arena for Game 5 of the Hawks-Wizards series, and he was — see the picture accompanying Logan’s post — wearing a Hawks cap and a Hawks T-shirt. (Irvin is from Stone Mountain and played at Stephenson High.)
Irvin has been lobbying to come home to play football since Dan Quinn, who was the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator the past two seasons, became the Falcons’ head coach. Rumors of a pre-draft trade circulated but amounted to nothing, but if Irvin waits another season, he can come here without costing the Falcons anything in trade. He’ll be a free agent after the upcoming season.
He’s not pleased about that. He took to Twitter to excoriate the Seahawks after they declined a fifth-year option that would have brought him $7.8 million. (His tweeted sentiments cannot be reproduced in family newspaper.) But now we ask: If Seattle wasn’t overly keen to keep him, should the Falcons be willing to pay big to buy him?
On the one hand, he has those 16 1/2 sacks over three seasons, which by recent Falcons standards would make him the next Lawrence Taylor. By other standards, he’s a former Round 1 pick who has only recently grown into an every-down player and whose best sacking season (with eight) was in 2012. And he’s listed as an outside linebacker, and the Falcons just burned the draft’s eighth overall pick on Vic Beasley. How much money should be earmarked to one position?
The Falcons have lacked a pass rush for so long that the kneejerk reaction is to say, “Come one, come all.” But banking on other people’s players is always a risk. The Seahawks don’t consider Irvin worth keeping for a fifth year at $7.8 million.
If he wants that much in free agency, I’m betting he doesn’t find it here. If he’ll agree to a bit of hometown discount, that’s a different story.