After four seasons in Seattle playing for the Seahawks, Bruce Irvin wanted an opportunity to increase his role on the defensive side of the football, however, he realized that Seattle was not the place to do that.
Enter the Oakland Raiders.
"I honestly felt like if I stayed in that [Seattle] system, I don't think I ever would be the player that I think I can be in this league, and that's being a pass rusher," Irvin told Bruce Murray and Kirk Morrison on SiriusXM NFL Radio. "SAM outside linebacker is cool, but you can do your job the whole game at SAM linebacker and you'll have two tackles. I just want to be utilized more and get put in positions more to make plays. I really think [Head Coach] Jack Del Rio and [Defensive Coordinator] Ken Norton, Jr., are going to do a great job of really allowing me to do that."
Even though the Seahawks primarily used him in coverage, the former West Virginia Mountaineer has been effective rushing the passer – he's totaled 11.5 sacks in the past two seasons playing primarily as a linebacker – but he's hopeful that a change of scenery and defensive scheme will help him see those numbers increase dramatically.
"I haven't even scratched what I know I can do, man," Irvin said. "Like I said, Seattle kind of limited me in that defense – and I did the best that I could do – but I haven't scratched my surface. I'm far from it. I still have a lot more great years, and a lot more things that I have to prove."
By joining the Silver and Black, Irvin now joins forces with Khalil Mack, who in 2015 showed that he is indeed one of the top-tier pass rushers in the NFL - just look at his 15 sacks and a First-Team All-Pro nod at not one, but two, positions for evidence.
Entering free agency, Irvin had multiple suitors for his services, but reuniting with his former Seattle linebackers coach Ken Norton, Jr., and getting an opportunity to play with Mack made the Raiders an attractive destination for the versatile linebacker.
"Khalil Mack, like I said in the interview last week, he's becoming one of the premier rushers in the league," Irvin said. "The guy went from four to 15 sacks, and he's only going to get better as you said. You have to have pass rushers if you want to be successful in this league, and I also feel like it has to be a tandem. It can't just be one person. "
He continued, "Being that Khalil had 15 sacks last year, he's going to command a lot of attention, so that's going to enable me to get a lot of one-on-one matchups, and I feel very confident that I'm going to take advantage of that."
Irvin acknowledged during the interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio that while it's rewarding to be compensated for your productivity, his decision to sign with the Silver and Black wasn't motivated by money – it was a decision motivated by opportunity and a chance to grow.
"I'm really confident that the Raiders can really take this next step and take over the AFC West," Irvin said. "There's some good football being played out there, but these guys, they're hungry, man. I went in there to sign my contract last week and Reggie and all those boys, they're hungry. You can see it. It's just a great situation out there and I'm just happy I can be a part of it."