The Las Vegas Raiders surprised fans this week when they decided that David Irving was the odd man out in their defensive line.
Following a debacle on defense last year, the Raiders were proactive in restructuring the defensive line. Reshaping the line’s interior was of the utmost importance this offseason. So, to do this, the team added veterans, Solomon Thomas and Quinton Jefferson, via free agency. Then, it was decided that Maurice Hurst Jr. was no longer in the organization’s plans despite showing occasional promise. On the other hand, bringing back Johnathan Hankins will help to maintain continuity, not to mention he’s a good run stuffer. Following these additions, David Irving suddenly became expendable.
Was the writing on the wall for the Raiders?
Once Irving was to come off the NFL suspended list, many people expected him to compete for snaps this season. In 2017, Irving proved to be an effective pass-rusher, though his career was then derailed by legal trouble. That season, he totaled seven sacks and nine tackles for a loss for the Dallas Cowboys. Following Irving’s involvement or lack thereof, Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal noted this.
“It also didn’t help that Irving has not been participating in the in-person, on-field portion of Phase 2 of the Raiders’ offseason program, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.”
More than likely, a combination of roster improvement and a lack of initiative led to Irving’s release. We’re also forgetting that Clelin Ferrell could see more playing time inside depending on how defensive coordinator Gus Bradley plans to use him. Another factor might’ve been rookie Darius Stills’ addition following the draft. Regardless, the Raiders’ interior defensive line is now taking shape ahead of training camp.
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*Top Photo: Cassie Soto/Las Vegas Review-Journal