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Breakfast with Benz

Report: Steelers' high offer couldn't get LB Bruce Irvin to give up his 'dream'

| Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018, 12:18 p.m.
Oakland Raiders defensive end Bruce Irvin during NFL football practice Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018, in Napa, Calif.
Eric Risberg/AP
Oakland Raiders defensive end Bruce Irvin during NFL football practice Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018, in Napa, Calif.
Oakland Raiders defensive end Bruce Irvin reacts after sacking Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018, in Carson, Calif.
Mark J. Terrill/AP
Oakland Raiders defensive end Bruce Irvin reacts after sacking Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018, in Carson, Calif.

If you are like me, you noticed that the Oakland Raiders released linebacker Bruce Irvin, and you thought, "Hey, the Steelers should take a look at him."

Apparently, the Steelers agreed with us.

According to ESPN.com, the Steelers and New England Patriots tried to sign Irvin before he agreed with Atlanta. And he claims those two clubs offered more money than the Falcons did.

Via Vaughn McClure :

"Bruce Irvin to me on joining the Falcons: 'This was a dream (come) true. The Patriots and Steelers offered more money but being able to play for my city and my people; you just can't put a price on that.'''

Irvin calls Atlanta home after attending Stockbridge High School and Stephenson High School. He dropped out and got a GED. He then attended two community colleges and eventually wound up at West Virginia.

Irvin went to the Seattle Seahawks in the draft. He was there from 2012-15, winning a Super Bowl.

Irvin was part of the NFL's All-Rookie Team in 2012. He had eight sacks that year. That number dipped to just two because of a substance-abuse suspension in 2013. But from 2014-17, Irvin had between 5 1/2 and eight sacks per season.

In three seasons with the Raiders, Irvin had 121 tackles, 18 sacks and 11 forced fumbles. The Raiders signed him after the Seahawks declined his fifth-year option for 2016.

His playing time dipped the past few weeks as coach Jon Gruden deemed him to be less than a good fit in his new defensive scheme.

But the guess here is that Irvin would've been a perfect fit as an occasional pass-rusher in the Steelers' 3-4 and sub-packages. As of now, the Steelers' only experienced outside linebacker backing up T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree is Anthony Chickillo. So it makes sense that Irvin would have been a target in the eyes of the Steelers. He led the league in forced fumbles two years ago.

The Steelers have 26 sacks — tied for fourth in the league. They've come in bunches, though. Thirteen of those 26 sacks were gathered in just two games against Atlanta and Cleveland. Watt has seven of them. Dupree has 3 1/2. No one besides those two has more than three sacks. That's what Irvin has totaled in what has been decreasing playing time this year.

During his career in the NFL, Irvin has played in 98 games with 75 starts. He has 264 tackles, 40 sacks, 15 forced fumbles, 11 pass defenses and three interceptions.

The Steelers declined to comment on Irvin's claim of a higher offer. Here's what he is slated to make.

So, if the Steelers offered more, that's significant interest for a guy cut loose in the middle of a season.

And, if Irvin is honest, it's tough to be critical of that approach since the Patriots were in on the bidding, too, given their track record of picking up defensive players cast off from other clubs and making them work in their system.

This would've been a nice signing for the Steelers. And based on what Irvin is saying, the Steelers made a concerted effort. In my opinion, this would've been a better allocation of dollars than getting any of the cornerbacks — besides Patrick Peterson — who had been rumored targets of the Steelers at the trade deadline.

It's a shame it didn't happen. At worst, Irvin would've been quality depth. At best, maybe he would've pressed Dupree for a starter's spot.

You can't fault a guy for being willing to sign for less to be in a preferred situation, though. We can't bash him for failing to chase the dollars. After all, in Pittsburgh, we've been telling a certain running back he should've done that for two years now.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at tbenz@tribweb.com or via Twitter @TimBenzPGH.

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