How Seahawks’ deal with Bruce Irvin reveals where their priorities are
The Seahawks signed linebacker/defensive end Bruce Irvin in free agency earlier this offseason, bringing a player familiar with their defense back to a team that needs all the pass-rushing help it can get after a sub-par 2019 season.
Details of Irvin’s contract were reported last week, and they were pretty surprising. According to Over the Cap, Irvin’s one-year deal comes with a salary cap hit of over $5.9 million, and he will earn a guaranteed $5 million. That’s pretty surprising when you consider that Jadeveon Clowney is still a free agent, and he and the Seahawks have both indicated recently that they’re still interested in a reunion in 2020. But with that much money going to Irvin, plus the additional signing of Benson Mayowa, it seems that there’s not much left for Seattle to give to Clowney if they re-sign him.
“It means they prioritized him,” 710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock Huard said of the Seahawks, Irvin and the contract.
Here’s the thing, though: The Seahawks agreed with Irvin before they did with Mayowa, and to Danny O’Neil, that signals what Seattle’s initial plans were to improve their pass rush.
“I think that it was the Mayowa contract that was the impetus for the most recent push that Seattle made to try and get Clowney,” O’Neil said. “They wanted to sign Clowney and Irvin but when they signed Mayowa, that was one that came with, hey, we don’t know if this is going to be here when we come back (to negotiations with Clowney).”
Clowney wants a big number from whichever team signs him this offseason, but Huard said the longer he has waited, the smaller the amount available to him from Seattle has become.
“When you say to Clowney and to his agent – and I’m sure (the Seahawks) did multiple times – ‘Here’s the deal, man. Here’s this money for you, here’s the offer we have, but eventually we have got to find other guys and we’re going to pay them if you don’t want that deal.’ And that’s $3 million guaranteed to Benson Mayowa, that’s $5 million guaranteed to Bruce Irvin, there’s obviously big guarantees to the many offensive linemen they’ve signed. That pot is diminished.”
Seattle clearly decided it couldn’t take a chance on waiting on Clowney, so they found other pass-rushing options in the meantime. And atop the list of players added is Irvin.
“When you guarantee Bruce Irvin he’s going to be on this team and you guarantee him $5 million, you’re guaranteeing him the opportunity to play a prominent role on that team as both a strong-side linebacker on early downs and then a pass rusher in those third-down situations,” Huard said. “Hopefully he produces the eight-plus sacks that he did a year ago and that guaranteed $5 million makes sense. … Bruce Irvin was certainly a priority and that contract speaks to it.”
You can hear the full discussion during Monday’s Blue 42 segment from 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant in this podcast.