The Chicago Bears are set to sign a veteran pass rusher, as first reported by NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport. The Bears are signing former Seattle Seahawks first-round pick Bruce Irvin, which is an ominous sign for the return of Khalil Mack.
Irvin, who just turned 34 at the beginning of November, tore his ACL Week 2 of last season and hasn’t played since. He finished with career-highs in sacks (8.5) and quarterback hits (16) during 13 games with the Carolina Panthers in 2019.
Mack, who hasn’t played since October 24, was not placed on injured reserve, and Bears head coach Matt Nagy said a few weeks back he thought the extended rest period might help. Chicago is also coming off its bye, and the team had hoped that might be beneficial to the All-Pro LB’s recovery, as well.
“I think the bye will come at a good time for us to see where he’s at and just talk through it and get more opinions as to medically where we’re at with our trainers and doctors,” Nagy said on November 6. “And just, basically, have a plan either way.”
The plan seems to include Irvin.
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Bruce Irvin: Background & Stats
The Seahawks selected Irvin in the first round (15th overall) of the 2012 NFL draft, and he spent his first four years in Seattle, winning Super Bowl XLVIII with the team. He played in 58 games for the Seahawks in that span, starting 37. He registered 133 total tackles (25 for loss), three interceptions, 22.0 sacks, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
The Las Vegas Raiders signed Irvin to a four-year, $37 million contract that included $19 million guaranteed in 2016, where he teamed with Khalil Mack. He was released after eight games in 2018, the year Mack was traded to Chicago. Irvin finished that season with the Atlanta Falcons before having a resurgence of sorts in 2019 with the Carolina Panthers. Irvin recorded 36 total tackles (eight for loss), a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, 8.5 sacks and 16 QB hits that year, and he had just begun his second stint with the Seahawks when he tore his ACL last year.
The Bears have to be hoping they’ll be getting a similar version to the pass rusher he was in 2019 with Carolina, but there’s no way to know what they have in Irvin, or how well he has recovered, until he hits the field.
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What Does This Mean for Khalil Mack?
It’s certainly not a good sign for Chicago’s superstar pass rusher, who last played Week 7.
“The only thing I would say to that is we’re working through everything right now with Khalil, you know,” Nagy said on October 27, via ESPN. “As everybody knows, he’s been battling through his foot injury. The last several weeks you’ve seen that with practice. There’s been absolutely no decisions made. We’ll just kind of see where that all ends up.”
The team’s decision to not just place Mack on injured reserve is slightly baffling, especially since he wound up missing at least three games, anyway.
Nagy will undoubtedly be asked about the status of Mack now that the team has inked Irvin for the remainder of the season, and it’ll be worth noting what he says. It’s unlikely Chicago is going to go after a veteran edge rusher to fill Mack’s role if he’s planning on returning anytime soon. We’ll see what happens, but it’s not looking good.