Bruce Irvin headlined an epic 2012 Seattle Seahawks draft class that ultimately turned the team into a consistent contender and a Super Bowl champion.
The former first-round pick will spend the next phase of his career elsewhere, though, as he agreed to sign with the Oakland Raiders on March 8, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and ESPN's Adam Schefter.
ESPN's Field Yates reported on March 9 that Bruce's contract is worth "$12.5 million fully guaranteed (all in 2016), $39 million max over four years."
The Raiders shared a photo of Irvin signing his contract on March 10:
Irvin commented on his new defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr., per Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle:
Irvin also discussed his time with the Seahawks on Tuesday, via Eddie Paskal of Raiders.com:
“I honestly felt like if I stayed in that [Seattle] system, I don’t think I ever would be the player that I think I can be in this league, and that’s being a pass rusher,” Irvin told Bruce Murray and Kirk Morrison on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “SAM outside linebacker is cool, but you can do your job the whole game at SAM linebacker and you’ll have two tackles. I just want to be utilized more and get put in positions more to make plays. I really think [Head Coach] Jack Del Rio and [Defensive Coordinator] Ken Norton, Jr., are going to do a great job of really allowing me to do that.”
Irvin was a raw but freakishly athletic edge-rusher coming out of West Virginia when the Seahawks took a chance on him. He was a polarizing pick at the time but made an instant impression with eight sacks as a rookie.
When opponents started figuring out Irvin's go-to moves, he became less effective in terms of pressuring opposing quarterbacks. The Seahawks opted to convert Irvin to a strong-side linebacker in their 4-3 alignment—and he's fared rather well since.
During the 2014 campaign, Irvin showed improvement dropping into coverage. He notched two interceptions and took both of them to the end zone for good measure, a testament to how talented he is.
After saying he'd take a slight discount to remain in Seattle, the 28-year-old apparently couldn't resist the money offered by Oakland.
Marc Sessler of NFL.com pointed out that Irvin is joining forces with Norton, who was the Seahawks' linebackers coach before becoming the Raiders' defensive coordinator in 2015:
#Raiders grabbing Irvin isn't so surprising if you consider that few know him better than Ken Norton, Jr. Oakland's on the rise.— Marc Sessler (@MarcSesslerNFL) March 9, 2016
Irvin will also be reunited with former teammate Malcolm Smith, a starting weak-side linebacker who won Super Bowl XLVIII MVP honors. Irvin will likely start opposite him on the strong side.
The fact that these Raiders have experienced a winning culture in Seattle and have innate chemistry playing together shouldn't be diminished. It's also worth noting that Del Rio specializes in linebackers, so it's possible he could elevate Irvin to a higher level of play.
Acquiring Irvin is the first step in what should be a considerable spending spree on that side of the ball. General manager Reggie McKenzie has a dearth of cornerbacks and lost legendary safety Charles Woodson to retirement, so the secondary figures to be the big priority moving forward.
With players like Irvin and Smith in the linebacker corps and a promising defensive line featuring Khalil Mack, Mario Edwards Jr. and Dan Williams, Oakland's front seven is shaping up to be a strength in 2016.