Raiders reportedly release highest-paid defensive player Bruce Irvin after role diminishes in 2018

The Raiders have released pass rusher Bruce Irvin, reports The Athletic’s Vic Tafur. The move comes two days after Irvin played just nine snaps in Oakland’s 34-3 loss to the 49ers, a team that was forced to start undrafted Nick Mullens at quarterback. 

Mullens, who spent the 2017 season on the 49ers’ practice squad, wasn’t sacked in the game and finished 262 passing yards, three touchdowns, no turnovers and a 151.9 passer rating.

After the game, first-year coach Jon Gruden explained his decision to keep Irvin on the sidelines for most of the game.

“We’re a 4-3 team now, so in the base defense sometimes he doesn’t fit the role we need done,” he said, per NBC Sports Bay Area’s Scott Bair. “He’s an edge rusher, and we haven’t had the lead a lot. … His role has been reduced. I know he’s frustrated. I’m frustrated. … He’s a good player.”

But not good enough to remain on a 1-7 team that is playing for draft position and not much else. 

In eight games, Irvin had six tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble. For some perspective, the Raiders have seven total sacks on the season and the man responsible for 43 percent of those sacks has been jettisoned. This development comes after Gruden spent the first few weeks of the season lamenting the lack of a pass rush.

“We gotta do something [about the pass rush], we gotta do something,” he said after the team’s Week 2 loss to the Broncos. “We gotta get there. We gotta win some one-on-ones, maybe call some more blitzes. We gotta figure something out. We will.”

And a week later, Gruden said this: “It’s hard to find a great [pass rusher]. It’s hard to find a good one. It’s hard to find one.”

This remains especially true when you trade your best pass rusher in Khalil Mack to the Bears before the season and cut your next-best pass rusher eight weeks later. Rookie Maurice Hurst is the only remaining Raiders player with multiple sacks (he has two).

As CBSSports.com’s Sean Wagner-McGough wrote on Friday, Irvin’s $8.25 million salary this season ranks fourth on the team behind quarterback Derek Carr ($25 million), and guards Kelechi Osemele and Gabe Jackson (both at $10.5 million, according to Spotrac). 

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