The market is thinning quickly on the defensive front ahead of free agency opening Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported the Oakland Raiders have reached an agreement to sign former Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin, per a source.
Irvin was considered one of the top defensive stars available on the market, ranking fifth in Around The NFL’s top 99 free agents list.
It became clear that Irvin would leave Seattle after becoming a surprise first-round pick in 2012. The Seahawks declined to pick up the fifth-year option on the linebacker.
Several teams flush with salary-cap space were rumored to be hot on Irvin’s trail, including the Atlanta Falcons and Jacksonville Jaguars jerseys, both of whom boast former Seahawk defensive coordinators as coaches. Instead, Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr., who coached linebacker’s in Seattle from 2010-2014, swooped in to land the 28-year-old, who owns 22 sacks.
General Reggie McKenzie needs to pair a pass rusher with stud Khalil Mack, and Irvin was one of the top names on the open market. During his four seasons in Seattle, Irvin was better in pass coverage and superior side-line-to-sideline run defender than a pass rusher. It will be intriguing to see how Norton deploys Irvin alongside Mack.
Irvin’s versatility should allow the Oakland the option of adding another edge rusher in free agency or the draft. Would McKenzie contemplate bringing back Aldon Smith?
The Raiders have plenty of cap space. Hour before agreeing with Irvin, Oakland hammered out an deal to claim Kelechi Osemele, one of the top offensive linemen poised to hit the market of cheap NFL jerseys, on a five-year, $60 million deal.
With Irvin off the board, Jason Pierre-Paul returning to New York, Mario Williams reaching a deal in Miami, Malik Jackson headed to Jacksonville, Tamba Hali staying in Kansas City and Charles Johnson reuniting in Carolina, much of the defensive line market has been sapped before the new league year even opens.
Mario Edwards Jr. promising rookie season is suddenly over.
The Raiders on Wednesday placed the first-year defensive end on injured reserve with a neck injury, the team announced.
“He had a significant injury,” coach Jack Del Rio told reporters. “We want to make sure we do what’s best for him first. Just hoping for the best. But (we’re) really most concerned with him right now. Other things going forward, we’ll worry about that later. But it’s significant, what he has.”
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Edwards left Sunday’s loss to Green Bay just a few snaps into the contest after appearing to twist his neck while shedding a block on a run by Packers back Eddie Lacy.
“Mario seemed optimistic, he just had to see what the actual issue was,” defensive tackle Dan Williams said Wednesday. “He has this thing going on with his neck but we don’t know the extent of the seriousness. But he was walking, talking, cool. Just being his regular self — joking with us.”
The second-rounder out of Florida State finished with 2.5 sacks this year but those numbers don’t describe how disruptive he’s been over the past two months. Edwards has emerged as a valuable piece of the puzzle for an Oakland defense that will now rely on Denico Autry jersey and Benson Mayowa to pick up the slack on Thursday night against the flailing San Diego Chargers.
The hope in Oakland is that Edwards can bounce back in Year 2 to make the same wild leap we’ve seen from Khalil Mack during his rousing 2015 campaign.
For Baltimore, the ageless Steve Smith Sr. continues to operate as the team’s most reliable playmaker, hauling in 150 yards off 10 catches. His 16 targets were more than double any other Raven, but we also saw progress from Crockett Gillmore. The second-year tight end finished with a career-best two touchdowns and 88 yards off five catches. The 6-foot-6, 260-pound Gillmore is speedy enough to get open and big enough to drag would-be tacklers.
John Harbaugh this week called Oakland’s pass rush one of the best in the league. We didn’t see it on Sunday. The inability to push the pocket allowed Flacco legions of time to find open targets. Oakland registered zero sacks and just one hit on the quarterback. They still don’t have a sack on the season.
Baltimore’s defense, meanwhile, isn’t the same without Terrell Suggs jersey. The Ravens struggled to control the line of scrimmage and gave Carr too much time to throw. That hurt a secondary that allowed 27 first downs to a Raiders offense that didn’t cross midfield until the fourth quarter last week against the Bengals. Toss in a dumb roughing the passer flag on Oakland’s final drive by Timmy Jernigan, and there wasn’t much to like about Baltimore’s game plan on Sunday.