The Raiders didn’t trade Bruce Irvin, but they have decreased the defensive end’s role.
Oakland is paying Irvin $8 million in base salary this season, their highest-paid defender. Yet, he played only nine defensive snaps against the 49ers on Thursday night.
“We’re a 4-3 team now, so in the base defense sometimes he doesn’t fit the role we need done,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said Friday, via Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area. “No disrespect to Bruce, but he’s an edge rusher. Plus, 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.”
Two of Irvin’s snaps came with the Raiders in their goal-line defense, according to Josh Dubow of the Associated Press. That means of the team’s 23 snaps in nickel, Irvin played only seven.
The co-captain played a previous season-low 24 defensive snaps against the Colts last week.
A pectoral injury has limited him, but it sounds as if the Raiders have limited Irvin more than the injury has. Irvin has made only six tackles this season.
He remains under contract next season with a $9 million base salary and $225,000 workout bonus. He will have no dead money in 2019 if the Raiders choose to cut him in the offseason, with a $9.25 million savings against their cap.