A five-year, $47.5 million deal signed Tuesday by Philadelphia defensive end Vinny Curry could only increase the market for Bruce Irvin and make it more difficult for the Seahawks to keep him.
If the odds already seemed against the Seattle Seahawks re-signing Bruce Irvin, those percentages likely grew even longer on Tuesday when the Philadelphia Eagles reached an agreement with defensive end Vinny Curry on a new deal.
According to NFL.com, the Eagles have re-signed Curry to a five-year contract worth $47.25 million, with $23 million guaranteed and a $10 million signing bonus.
Could that contract influence what Irvin, Seattle’s first-round pick in 2012 and now set to become an unrestricted free agent, will ask for on the open market?
“Most definitely,’’ said former NFL agent Joel Corry, who now writes about salary-cap issues for CBSSports.com. “He should be sending (Curry’s) agent (Athlete’s First, the same agency that also represents Bobby Wagner and Earl Thomas) a thank you card.’’
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Curry and Irvin are not completely direct matches as players.The 6-3, 279-pound Curry is listed as a defensive end and one reason the Eagles signed him to a deal that Corry said is higher than expected is that they are moving back to a 4-3 defense, where they figure Curry will flourish.
“He’s the best pure pass rusher on the team,’’ Corry said. In fact, Pro Football Focus assessed that Curry was able to get pressure on a quarterback more often in 2015 than any other 3-4 defensive end except for Houston’s J.J. Watt.
The 6-3, 260-pouind Irvin, meanwhile, thrived with the Seahawks once he was moved into a hybrid role beginning in 2013 in which he played outside linebacker as well as being a pass rusher in nickel downs, instead of being solely a pass rusher.
Still, as players considered as two of the better pass rushers available in in the draft of 2012 — with Irvin going No. 15 overall and Curry at No. 59 — they have often been compared.
Curry has 16.5 sacks the last three seasons while Irvin has 13.5 (and 22 for his career — Curry played sparingly as a rookie).
But Irvin could point to the success he had in 2012 when he was almost solely a pass rusher — eight sacks — as well his ability since then to handle dual roles (pass rushers typically draw higher salaries than off-the-line linebackers).
Irvin’s camp might also note that Curry had just 3.5 this season when he played just 35 percent of the snaps for the Eagles, while Irvin had 5.5 while playing 71.5 percent of the Seahawks’ defensive snaps.
Corry said a complete assessment of how Curry’s deal will impact the market will have to wait until all of the details of the contract are revealed.
The contract averages out to just over $9.25 million.
“And that right there should set a floor for Bruce Irvin,’’ Corry said, who said he had no doubts that Irvin’s agent, Joel Segal, would “be looking through that deal and will be studying it.’’
That dollar figure might be too much for the Seahawks, who declined picking up an option last season on Irvin that would have paid him almost $7.8 in 2016 (Curry, as a second-round pick, was not eligible for such an option). Had Seattle picked up that option then Irvin could have become a free agent in 2017.
Instead, he is now set to be an unrestricted free agent on March 9 unless the Seahawks re-sign him before then.
Irvin is now finished with a four-year, $9.3 million deal he got as a rookie in 2012.
Some have wondered how Irvin’s age will impact his deal — he was 24 when he entered the NFL and turned 28 on Nov. 1. But Curry isn’t much younger, set to turn 28 on June 30.
Irvin said on the Monday after the loss to Carolina when players cleaned out lockers that he hoped to stay with the Seahawks and that he might even take as much as $3-5 million less in total value to do so “though probably three.’’
“I’m not asking for $100 million,’’ he said. “I’m not asking for nothing crazy. I just want to be appreciated. But everything will work itself out.’’
Corry said he remains convinced that one of three teams that has a coach or defensive coordinator who used to work with Seattle — Atlanta (Dan Quinn), Jacksonville (Gus Bradley) and Oakland (defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.) — is likely to make a run at Irvin that might be too rich for Seattle’s liking. Corry notes that along with having coaches who know Irvin, all three also have obvious pass rush needs.
“He (Irvin) just needs two of those teams to make him a priority and he’s going to end up doing very well when Joel Segal plays them against one another, if that happens,” Corry said.
Corry said he thinks other teams around the NFL will think that Irvin could still thrive in a role in which he would be asked to do more pass rushing than he has in Seattle.
Seattle has Kevin Pierre-Louis and Eric Pinkins — who each just fished their second year — as potential replacements for Irvin if he does not return, but could also dip into the draft and free agency, as well.