On Tuesday, the Seahawks announced the signings of Benson Mayowa and ex-49er Kerry Hyder. In doing so, Seattle seemed to be shutting the door on the possibility of re-signing former first-round pick and longtime fan favorite Bruce Irvin. With his career in the Pacific Northwest likely coming to a close, what is next for the former West Virginia standout? Apparently, Irvin may be deciding it is time to hang up his cleats and call it a day.
Bruce Irvin “liked” the above tweets early this morning, and a certain amount of divining cryptic social media posts leads to the notion that Irvin may, in fact, be looking towards retirement. Irvin will turn 34 during the 2021 season. His return to Seattle in 2020 was a welcome lift, as his magnetic attitude — both on and off the field — has forever endeared him to fans throughout his career. The fanfare was unfortunately short lived, though, as his homecoming season was cut short in week 2 with a torn ACL.
In addition to being a first round pick by Seattle in the legendary draft of 2012, Irvin’s personal road to the NFL goes much deeper. I highly recommend reading this exceptional piece that Irvin wrote for the Players Tribune in 2017 that details his life before football. As a pro, Irvin played an integral role to the Seahawks’ Super Bowl winning defense of 2013. He has collected 52 sacks over his 9-year career while also playing for the Raiders, Falcons, and Panthers.
While Irvin may still be sorting out his next steps, as no official announcements have been made, the Hawks may be evaluating their future plans as well. A year ago, the Seahawks’ pass rush was in a much different position, at least perceptually. At that time, the departure of Jadeveon Clowney was still very much a fluid situation as we all pondered the merits of paying top dollar to a player who had three sacks and 13 QB hits over the prior year. The Hawks made a bold decision to proceed with a group comprised of Irvin, Benson Mayowa, rookies Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson, and second year player LJ Collier.
A lot changes in year. The Hawks
lost out looked smart when they held their ground and Clowney eventually signed a $12M deal with Tennessee, where he proceeded to have the least healthy and least productive season since his rookie year. Meanwhile, Benson Mayowa’s recent re-signing was heralded by fans after a solid 2020 campaign. Collier staved off the “bust” label for at least another year as his play improved in a sophomore campaign where he started all 16 regular season games and tallied a trio of sacks following a nearly anonymous rookie year. Darrell Taylor never saw the field, but Alton Robinson performed well in limited action, displaying an ability to get to the quarterback in critical game moments and even showing some talent against the run. But, as Tyler detailed last week, even with solid performances from Mayowa, Collier, and Robinson, the defense looked historically bad until mid-season, at which point Schneider pulled a vintage buzzer beater trade with Cincinnati for Carlos Dunlap, who did his part to revitalize the defense during the final stretch.
But with Dunlap an unlikely candidate to return after the latest roster moves, and Irvin all but certainly gone, how comfortable is Seattle with the group of defensive ends currently on the roster? The Hawks have a talented and young but largely unproven group of players behind veterans Hyder and Mayowa, who will both be 30 at the start of the season. None have eclipsed 10 sacks in a season, and only Mayowa, Hyder, and LJ Collier have extensive starting experience. Schneider and Carroll are in a tough spot with the salary cap, and the odds that they will add any more big names in free agency seem slim, even with a few noteworthy players still unsigned such as Jadeveon Clowney, Aldon Smith, Melvin Ingram, and Justin Houston.
In all likelihood, if Seattle wishes to continue to bolster its pass rush, the draft in April may be the most likely remaining avenue to do so — a draft in which Seattle currently holds only three selections, by far the fewest of the PC/JS era. What do you think — did Seattle do enough to address the pass rush this offseason? Who are some players they should consider with picks 56, 129, and 250?