The Raiders have waived edge rusher and team captain Bruce Irvin, the team announced Saturday.
"We would like to thank Bruce Irvin for his years of service to the Oakland Raiders and we wish him the best," Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said in a statement.
The team’s only established pass rusher had seen his role diminish in recent weeks, to the point that he played just nine defensive snaps Thursday night against the 49ers.
The Raiders weren’t using him, and Irvin wasn’t happy. The Silver and Black tried to move him before last week’s NFL trade deadline and got some nibbles, but they couldn’t complete a deal.
Irvin was halfway though an $8 million salary, and a team would’ve assumed that pay rate had it acquired him in trade. The Raiders now are on the hook for the whole thing, unless a team claims him on waivers. His 2019 salary was not guaranteed and now is null and void.
In a statement posted to his Twitter account, Irvin said he will "always cherish" his time in Oakland.
The Athletic was first to report the news that Irvin had been cut.
Irvin must clear waivers before becoming a free agent. He could be claimed by a pass-rusher-starved team, or sign with one shortly after.
A reunion with Ken Norton Jr. and the Seattle Seahawks, the team that originally drafted him, seems like an obvious landing spot, though there will be competition for his services.
The Raiders have generated an NFL-worst (by a long shot) 59 quarterback pressures this season, but they still chose to use Irvin less and less. This coaching staff moved him from strongside linebacker to defensive end in more of a traditional 4-3 base alignment, but his role was reduced to sub packages during the season despite him being regarded as a solid edge run defender and adept at forcing fumbles.
He has a team-leading three sacks on the season.
Irvin was impacted most by the Sept. 1 Khalil Mack trade. He was an excellent secondary edge rusher, capitalizing on attention paid to Mack across the line.
Irvin and Mack also were great friends, and losing his partner on the field made life far tougher on him to generate quarterback pressure. Irvin isn’t a solid scheme fit either, which led to a downturn in his production when he was on the field.
The Raiders will use the same combination of defensive ends as they have been, with Frostee Rucker, Arden Key and Shilique Calhoun, and Clinton McDonald playing out of position on the outside.
This is yet another move that doesn’t help the 2018 Raiders’ on-field product, much like the Mack and Amari Cooper trades. Rucker is the leader up front, with fellow team captain Reggie Nelson fronting the secondary.
The Raiders are off through the weekend, and will return to practice Monday.