I don’t know if you knew this, but Atlanta’s pass rush right now is a bit paltry.
With DEs Takkarist McKinley and Derrick Shelby both down with injury and DE Vic Beasley not making a consistent impact on the field at edge, the team could use another impact rusher to add to this rotation. Or even a solid one.
DE Brooks Reed is a stalwart veteran rusher, and DE Steven Means is promising, if unproven. Once McKinley and Shelby get back, they’ll be at full strength, but even then, the attack in place right now still doesn’t look like enough, particularly if Beasley continues to have a quiet year.
Matt Chambers threw out some ideas for how the defensive line via acquisition, and that’s absolutely a great place to start thinking about improvements.
I’ve tried to rack my brain to think what pass rushers are out there on teams that might be in a funk and would be willing to part ways with a pass rusher. Here’s one scenario I came up with that seems like it would help solve Atlanta’s issues and seems realistic.
The Oakland Raiders don’t really seem all that interested in doing anything productive in 2018, after the Khalil Mack trade pretty much tanked any hope of a pass rush they’d have.
One wonders if they’d be willing to just tank this season and go on a fire sale. If they do decide to spend Jon Gruden’s first season tearing down, Atlanta needs to get on the phone to see what OLB Bruce Irvin would cost.
Irvin’s always been a decent pass rusher who brings speed and physicality to his defenses. He’s not elite, but he’s sturdy and gets you production. He’s coming off an eight-sack season out in Oakland, but isn’t a Jon Gruden guy. Really, anyone who isn’t a Gruden guy right now in Oakland should be considered a potential target via trade.
He could slot in the rotation and give Dan Quinn a guy who knows his defense and has been coached by Quinn before. It’s not the move to solve the problem, but it could absolutely help. He can also play some linebacker if need be.
The contract is tough, as he’s due $8 million this season and $9 the next against the cap. Presumably in any trade, Atlanta would probably renegotiate a deal and backload it. Besides, there is no salary penalty for Oakland releasing Irvin after 2018, so he might be a goner there anyway. They might want to see what they could receive before they part ways outright.
Adding Irvin to what Atlanta has now would be smart for 2018 and beyond. He’d be reliable veteran depth who could start in a pinch and could stick around for a few years as different contracts expire and new faces arrive.
I tried to think of other things that might work out, but to no avail. Most teams at the moment that have poor records won’t part ways with the already-small group of rushers that they have (it’s a trend), and the good teams will want to hold onto those guys for the future.
Irvin’s a fascinating possibility to help Atlanta get this going again, and the team Irvin’s on might be willing to take the draft capital now and avoid just releasing Irvin outright in the winter.