Irvin will play out the final year of his initial four-year rookie contract at $1.6 million in 2015 and can become an unrestricted free agent following the season.
The Seahawks are not expected to pick up an option for the 2016 season on the contract of linebacker Bruce Irvin, according to a report Wednesday night from NFL.com.
And while NFL.com reported Irvin could still be in the team’s longterm plans, stating that the Seahawks would like to re-sign him once his current contract runs out following the 2015 season, a separate rumor broke that the team may be considering trading the fourth-year linebacker.
Pro Football Talk, citing a league source, reported that there is “chatter’’ that Irvin could be traded to Atlanta, which is his home and also would reunite him with former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, now the head coach of the Falcons.
NFL teams have until Sunday to pick up options for the 2016 season on players taken in the first round of the draft in 2012. Irvin was drafted by Seattle with the 15th overall pick that year.
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If Seattle were to pick up the option, it would pay Irvin almost $7.8 million in 2016 with Irvin then becoming an unrestricted free agent going into 2017.
Without the option being picked up, Irvin would play out the final year of his initial four-year rookie contract at $1.6 million in 2015 and then could become an unrestricted free agent following the season.
It would be the second straight year Seattle has declined to pick up a fifth-year contract option. Last year, the Seahawks passed on picking up the option for guard James Carpenter, who played out his deal in 2014 and became an unrestricted free agent and then signed with the Jets.
The Seahawks did not immediately confirm the news Wednesday night, stating only that they had no announcement to make yet.
General manager John Schneider said in a pre-draft meeting with the media last week that the team had not decided what to do with Irvin.
“Those options can be tricky,’’ Schneider said. “That’s all I can get into now.’’
If Irvin remains in the team’s plans then the Seahawks would certainly try to re-sign Irvin to a longer contract that would have a lower per-year salary.
The decision comes at a time when the Seahawks are also facing the challenge of trying to sign quarterback Russell Wilson to an extension that could pay him more than $20 million a year and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner to one that could pay him at least $9 million a year. Each was also taken in the 2012 draft, along with Irvin. But since each was taken after the first round, they have only the regular four-year rookie contracts without a team option, with the team able to extend their contracts now that they have played three years.
Irvin, initially drafted to be a pass-rushing defensive end, has evolved into a hybrid role as the team’s starting strongside linebacker in running downs and then moving to a rush end role in passing downs.
Irvin, who will turn 28 on Nov. 1, was second on the team in sacks in 2014 with 6.5 sacks while also intercepting two passes, returning both for touchdowns.
The news comes on the eve of the NFL draft when the Seahawks have a league-high 11 picks and could use one on a linebacker who could replace Irvin. Irvin’s listed backup is Mike Morgan, who re-signed with the team recently for 2015.
O’Brien Schofield, who also had a role of playing rush end in passing downs, signed with the Falcons as a free agent, and Seattle has been thought by many likely to pursue a pass rusher in the draft.