Fooch’s update: The Raiders officially released Irvin on Monday, per the daily transaction wire. He is a vested veteran, but because this happened post-trade deadline, he has to go through the waivers process. All 31 other teams can place a waiver claim on him over the next 24 hours. Waivers runs at 1 p.m. PT on Tuesday, at which point we’ll find out where he might be headed.
The San Francisco 49ers will not make the playoffs in 2018, but the return of Jimmy Garoppolo and Jerick McKinnon in 2019 coupled with a high draft pick puts them in position to compete for the postseason then. With that in mind, any roster moves moving forward should factor that in to a certain extent.
Which brings us to the Oakland Raiders. Beat writer Vic Tafur reported on Saturday that the Raiders had decided to cut pass rusher Bruce Irvin. It has been a tough year for Irvin, who had served as a complement to Khalil Mack in 2016 and 2017. Irvin can still get to the passer, but he is a complement more than a primary option. Dealing away Mack has made life a lot more difficult for Irvin, who has three sacks through eight games — a season after matching his career high with eight sacks.
Where this gets interesting is the waiver wire. If the Raiders had cut Irvin prior to the trade deadline, he would have become a free agent immediately. After the trade deadline, vested veterans become subject to the waiver wire system. By waiting until after the trade deadline, all 31 other teams can put in a claim on Irvin to pick up the final season-plus of his contract.
Irvin is signed through 2019, earning $8 million this season (his new team would owe him $4 million the rest of the season) and $9 million (plus a $250,000 workout bonus) next year. If he is claimed off waivers, the new team would owe that (his 2019 salary is not guaranteed). If he is not claimed, he would be signing a new contract.
Irvin is likely hoping none of the teams outside the playoff chase claim him, and instead he lands with a Super Bowl contender. However, any team can place a claim on him. Waiver priority is based on draft order, and right now, the 49ers would hold the third position. Buffalo could climb ahead of them with a loss depending on strength of schedule, so the 49ers are looking at third or fourth in waiver priority.
Once Irvin is officially waived, I have to think his agent will be on the phone with teams atop the waiver list to a) ask if they are thinking of claiming Irvin and b) make it clear he wants to play for a contender. That being said, it might make sense for the 49ers to put in a claim on Irvin. They are not playing for the playoffs this year, but they are hopefully upgrading the pass rush next offseason. They have a high pick and plenty of cap room. Maybe they try and sign DeMarcus Lawrence, or maybe they spend a top five pick on a premium pass rusher. Either way, they could be in a position in 2019 where Irvin can serve in that complementary role.
The next 48 hours could be interesting for teams looking to upgrade their pass rush. If nobody in the top 10 or so waiver spots puts in a claim on Irvin, it might be because conversations were had between teams and Irvin’s agent. But we’ll see what happens between now and Tuesday.