Seahawks 2021 Free Agent Primer: Bruce Irvin

A severe knee injury ended Irvin's reunion in Seattle after just two games. Coming off multiple surgeries, could the Seahawks give him a shot at redemption in 2021?
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Following an early Wild Card round exit, the Seahawks have officially transitioned into an offseason that could be one of the most significant of the Pete Carroll and John Schneider era.

When the new 2021 league year kicks off in March, Seattle will have a whopping 24 players set to become unrestricted free agents. Four players will be restricted free agents, while six will be exclusive rights free agents and several others will be entering the final year of their current contracts ready to negotiate extensions, including safety Jamal Adams.

Over the next several weeks, I will break down each and every one of the Seahawks' unrestricted free agents by revisiting their 2020 seasons, assessing why they should or should not be re-signed, breaking down an ideal contract, and making an early prediction on whether or not the player will return in 2021.

Continuing our series, Bruce Irvin's homecoming to Seattle lasted only two games before a torn ACL ended his season in September. Will the veteran pass rusher get a shot to redeem himself in 2021?

Season In Review

After re-signing with the Seahawks on a one-year deal in March, Irvin was installed into the starting lineup at SAM linebacker, the same spot he played for most of his first four seasons entering the league in Pete Carroll's defense. The veteran enjoyed a strong training camp and produced two quarterback hits along with a tackle for loss in Seattle's season opening victory over Atlanta. Unfortunately, his knee buckled on a non-contact injury while rushing Cam Newton during the fourth quarter against the Patriots the following week and he was diagnosed with a torn ACL the following day, bringing his season to an abrupt end.

Why Seattle Should Re-Sign Him

Prior to going down with his season-ending knee injury, Irvin had been quite durable throughout his first eight NFL seasons. He played in at least 15 games in six of those eight seasons, proving to be a consistent contributor with at least 5.5 sacks in all but one of those seasons, including generating a career-high 8.5 sacks for the Panthers in 2019. He's a versatile player who can still rush the passer off the edge with his hand in the dirt and in a two-point stance as well as drop into coverage on occasion at strongside linebacker. Most importantly, he's made an incredible transformation from a first-round pick with character issues into a mature locker room leader that helped youngsters such as Alton Robinson a great deal during training camp last summer.

Why Seattle Should Let Him Walk

According to coach Pete Carroll, Irvin had to undergo a second knee operation recently, which could put his status for the start of the 2021 season in jeopardy. Two surgeries to repair a knee with ligament damage in short order is never a good sign, especially for an aging player who will turn 34 years old in November. While the Seahawks could still use him at strongside linebacker, the team is more likely to either re-sign K.J. Wright or opt to go younger at the position for a portion of the cost with Cody Barton or a draft choice stepping into the lineup. As for playing defensive end, Darrell Taylor's impending return coupled with the ascendance of Robinson may not leave many snaps for Irvin to rush off the edge either.

Ideal Contract

1 year at $2.5 million with incentives

Prediction

Watching Irvin evolve from a rookie littered with character red flags into an outstanding father and locker room leader has been one of the best individual stories for any player who has been with the Seahawks during the Carroll era. On the field, he played an underrated role for both of Seattle's Super Bowl teams in 2013 and 2014 and looked to be on his way to a solid 2020 season before succumbing to injury. But unless he has interest in playing for minimal guaranteed salary on a one-year deal to stay in Seattle as a veteran mentor and is willing to accept a rotational reserve role, it seems unlikely the team will re-sign him due to his age, his multiple knee surgeries, and other alternatives already on the roster at the two positions he plays.

Previous Seahawks Free Agent Primers

Chris Carson

K.J. Wright

Shaquill Griffin

Mike Iupati

Benson Mayowa

Quinton Dunbar

Ethan Pocic

Jacob Hollister