Bruce Irvin May Be Good Fit For Eagles

By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor

On Saturday, Jon Gruden made yet another interesting move in the first year of his historic 10-year deal. The Oakland Raiders, who are utterly lacking in pass rush, decided to part ways with defensive end Bruce Irvin.

”What does this have to do with the Eagles?”, you may ask. Despite the trade deadline passing, the Raiders cutting Irvin could lead to the Eagles adding some additional depth.

While the Eagles began the season with five defensive ends on the roster, with Derek Barnett out for the season, they have begun to play Michael Bennett a lot more. He played near 80% of snaps in the three games that Barnett has been out. The Eagles prefer to rotate their linemen fairly regularly and do not appear eager to throw rookie Josh Sweat in for a whole lot of snaps. So much so that he has played only 19 snaps in Barnett’s absence. Bruce Irvin may be a solution. The Eagles also waived defensive tackle Bruce Hector to make room for Golden Tate, leaving the team with only three defensive tackles. This may mean Brandon Graham or Michael Bennett will need to rotate inside, especially if Ngata misses any more time due to injury.

While Irvin hasn’t been as effective this season as he has been in the past, he could provide great depth for the Eagles and allow the other guys on the line some additional rest.

Player Games Tackles Sacks Forced Fumbles
Derek Barnett 6 11 2.5 0
Bruce Irvin 8 6 3 1

Irvin has not been as effective against the run as Barnett has, but he may produce more when placed in the Eagles elite defensive line. His stats are obviously not particularly great, but after the Khalil Mack trade, Irvin became “the guy” for the Oakland defensive line. If Irvin is in the game, he will get an obvious double team as the best player on the line. If placed in a line with guys like Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham, he will get one on one match-ups and should be able to produce as he has in the past. He could certainly play well enough to be an effective replacement for Barnett.

He is a seventh-year player that is only two seasons removed from leading the league in forced fumbles. The Eagles have a turnover differential of -5, so they could certainly use someone who could create more fumbles.

Every NFL team has 24 hours to submit a claim for Irvin and the team with the worst record that put in a claim would get him. Based on the current records, the Eagles would be 17th in the waiver wire order. If they were to claim him, they would be on the hook for the remaining $4 million he is owed this season, which is doable with the Eagles having $7 million of cap space available after the trade deadline. He would then be eligible to be a free agent at season’s end because he has spent more than four years in the league. The Eagles slow start to the season has put their waiver claim higher than nearly any other contending team, so the Eagles stumbling early may enable them to better their roster even further.

If Irvin is not claimed and clears waivers, he becomes a free agent and the Eagles may be able to get him to sign for the rest of the year on a less expensive deal. The Eagles would be wise to try and pick him up before that to ensure another playoff team doesn’t better themselves while the birds were waiting around for a deal. There is also no reason to believe Irvin would choose the Eagles, either.

The Eagles have the cap space set aside to make additions and win this season. The likelihood of a player as talented as Irvin becoming available over the rest of this season is close to zero and the players the Eagles are likely to sign due to any possible injuries will be paid the minimum amount or close to it, so using a chunk of cap space on Irvin should be a no-brainer.

Update: With the impending return of Tim Jernigan, defensive line depth should not be nearly as big of a concern for the Eagles. The Eagles may look at him as a free agent, but they will most likely not look to pick up his existing deal.

Update: Irvin is signing with the Atlanta Falcons.