BY: ED COLE
GLENDALE, Ariz. – One of the things the Arizona Cardinals will be looking to address in free agency and in the 2016 NFL Draft is their pass rush. They were tied for 20th in the league in sacks last season with 36 – a team-leading 8.0 sacks came from outside linebacker Dwight Freeney, who joined the team mid-season.
It seems like the Cardinals are serious in their search for pass rush help via free agency, because NFL Media insider Ian Rapoport is reporting that the team is interested in Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 7, 2016
The Cardinals would have some steep competition to battle with to get Irvin. Rapoport is hearing the Jacksonville Jaguars and Atlanta Falcons are interested in him as well. With Gus Bradley (Jaguars) and Dan Quinn (Falcons) in place as head coaches, and Irvin’s former defensive coordinators in Seattle, it would make sense that they would be in play for Irvin’s services. Irvin is also from Atlanta, Ga., so that might have some importance in his decision making.
Jacksonville has the most salary cap space of any team ($83,236,096), and Atlanta has money to spend, but not nearly that much ($27,028,897). They’d have a step up on Arizona if it came down to a bidding war. The Cardinals are pretty comfortable with $16,005,731 to spend, which could net them a few free agents if they lose out on Irvin.
Irvin is one of the dynamic young defensive talents the league has to offer, and he’d be just what the Cardinals would need to beef up their pass rush. In the four years he’s spent with the Seahawks, Irvin’s gotten 22 sacks (a career-high 8.0 in his rookie season), 96 tackles, three interceptions (two returned for touchdown), seven passes defensed, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Irvin’s also played in 10 playoffs games since being with Seattle and he’s won a world championship. In those 10 games, Irvin has 14 tackles, 3.5 sacks and one pass defensed.
The Cardinals seemingly aren’t done there. According to Kent Somers, azcentral sports Cardinals insider, the team is also interested in Los Angeles Rams defensive end William Hayes.
#azcardinals have expressed interest in Rams DE Williams Hayes. 8 yr vet, 30. 21.5 sacks last four years.
— Kent Somers (@kentsomers) March 7, 2016
Hayes is from High Point, N.C., the same hometown as former Cardinals safety and current scout Adrian Wilson. In eight years with the Tennessee Titans and St. Louis Rams, Hayes has 29.5 sacks, 195 tackles, one interception, five passes defensed, seven forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries.