David Irving Joins the Raiders but What Does he Bring with him?

Nicholas Cothrel
David Irving Raiders

The Las Vegas Raiders haven’t generated much of a pass rush from their defensive line. With the addition of David Irving, the team may get the missing ingredient they need to cook up a better defense.

Former Dallas Cowboys’ defensive lineman David Irving was reinstated by the NFL on Friday and if reports hold true, he’s already the newest member of the Las Vegas Raiders.

After his reinstatement, Irving visited the Raiders team facility on Saturday and wound up reaching a deal to sign with Las Vegas on Tuesday, according to Aaron Wison of the Houston Chronicle.

As of now, Irving has been placed on the practice squad, but after he passes all COVID-19 protocols, he’s destined to be elevated to the team’s active roster.

This move reunites yet another former Cowboys pass rusher with defensive line coach Rob Marinelli. Having already signed the underperforming Maliek Collins and Daniel Ross earlier this offseason, it’s evident that players have a strong connection with Marinelli, and Irving is another example of a player who wants to follow his former position coach.

Irving was suspended indefinitely by the NFL after violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He later stated he was quitting football altogether in March 2019, after failing his third drug test in four years. Irving’s use of marijuana — both recreationally and for pain relief — is well documented on the player’s own social media channels.

Since then, the NFL has changed their tune on the league drug policy, eliminating the process of testing players for marijuana use in the new NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement.

As a result, Irving is well on his way back into the NFL.

Who Was David Irving Before His Last Suspension?

It’s been a while since Irving played in the NFL, but before his career went on pause, he was an effective disrupter against the pass.

David Irving Las Vegas Raiders
Nov 30, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) throws a pass against Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle David Irving (95) in the first quarter at AT&T Stadium. Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

In 2016, he served as a rotational piece along the Cowboys’ defensive line, playing in 15 games and making two starts. He forced four fumbles while recording four sacks and 15 quarterback hits.

His most productive action came in 2017 and 2018 when he recorded eight sacks, 12 quarterback hits and 11 tackles for loss over 10 games. Irving faced a suspension in each of the two seasons and was plagued with a concussion and ankle injury that derailed his availability.

He was rarely able to play over a lengthy period of time without any interference, but when suited up, he was an effective defensive lineman.

How David Irving Fits with the Raiders

Irving’s last game came on October 21, 2018, so he’ll likely have his hands full to get back into ‘football shape’ while also being asked to learn Paul Guenther’s complex defensive system rather quickly.

The Raiders’ defensive line depth took a blow when Carl Nassib — one of the Raiders’ high-priced acquisitions — suffered an injury to his toe during the team’s win over the Kansas City Chiefs. Adding Irving to the mix, makes it’s possible that Nassib winds up on the injured reserve list.

The 6-foot-7, 290-pounder comes in with expectations to ignite the Raiders’ pass rush with a breath of fresh air. After adding multiple reinforcements during the offseason free agency period, the Raiders still rank tied for 29th in the NFL among team sacks.

The Raiders have explored several different routes trying to find a more consistent pass rush, and the ‘Irving experiment’ is another piece to the puzzle.

The low risk, high reward signing of Irving could be just what the Raiders’ lackluster pass rush needs.