Seattle’s Bruce Irvin told BlackSportsOnline.com that he’s going to be “in Atlanta next season.”
Speaking to Black Sports Online at Wednesday’s NBA playoff game between his hometown Atlanta Hawks and the Washington Wizards, Irvin said he wanted to play for the Atlanta Falcons when his contract expires after this season, according to BSO’s Samuel Logan.
“I’m going to be in Atlanta next season,” Irvin told Black Sports Online. “I’m ready.”
Pressured further, Irvin was asked whether he would stay in Seattle if the Seahawks “showed him the money.” His response was similarly blunt.
“Atlanta is where I want to be,” Irvin said. “Believe that.”
Irvin’s fifth-year contract option was not picked up by the Seahawks prior to the May 3 deadline, meaning he will be an unrestricted free agent after this season. Had the team picked up the option, Irvin would have been guaranteed a $7.8 million deal for 2016.
The Falcons are coached by former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who took over the head coaching job in Atlanta following Super Bowl XLIX. This isn’t the first time rumors have pointed Irvin to Atlanta, as whispers during the NFL draft had him possibly heading to his hometown team after news leaked that the Hawks were likely to pass on his option.
The No. 15 overall pick out of West Virginia in 2012, Irvin has developed from a pass-rush specialist into a starting linebacker for the Hawks’ top-ranked defense.
After leading all rookies — and setting a Seahawks franchise rookie record — with 8.0 sacks in 2012, Irvin transitioned from defensive end to strong-side linebacker in 2013 following the signings of free agents Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett.
He missed four games while serving suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing substance policy in 2013, but adjusted nicely to his new role afterward, picking up 40 tackles and 2.0 sacks.
He underwent offseason hip surgery following Seattle’s Super Bowl XLVIII victory, but saw time in all but one game during the 2014 season. Irvin ended up playing the eighth-most snaps of any Seahawks defender while tallying 37 tackles, 6.5 sacks and two interceptions, both of which he returned for touchdowns.