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O’Neil: With Bruce Irvin released by Raiders, return to Seahawks possible

Bruce Irvin left the Seahawks for the Raiders in free agency in 2016. (AP)

Bruce is loose.

Bruce Irvin, the former Seahawks linebacker, was waived by the Oakland Raiders on Saturday, which opens the possibility of Irvin’s return to Seattle.

And actually, that’s a distinct possibility if Irvin goes unclaimed as expected, but we’ll get to the specifics of that in a second. First, a personal disclosure: I’m not totally objective in this matter given the fact that during Irvin’s four seasons in Seattle from 2012 through 2015 I regularly brought him lunch, first a Big Mac from McDonald’s and later moving on to sandwiches from Subway. There was one time I threw in six chicken nuggets when he returned an interception for a touchdown.

Irvin is now 31, having joined the Raiders in 2016 as an unrestricted free agent. His playing time declined significantly over the past month as the Raiders have embarked on an increasingly aggressive rebuilding program. Irvin’s base salary this year is $8.25 million, which he is guaranteed to receive. By waiving him, the 31 other teams have a chance to claim him and pay the balance of his $8.25 million salary, which is about $4 million.

If Irvin goes unclaimed – as expected – he will become an unrestricted free agent. He could choose to re-sign with the Seahawks, who would figure to be interested given both their familiarity with Irvin and their need for a pass rush.

Irvin was chosen No. 15 overall by Seattle in the 2012 draft and spent that season as the team’s backup defensive end behind Chris Clemons. He finished with eight sacks, and in the offseason was moved to strongside linebacker after Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril were added in free agency.

Irvin played in approximately half of Oakland’s defensive snaps this season and led the Raiders with three sacks.

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