In search of defensive edge depth, the Bears have signed Bruce Irvin, reports NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Concrete contract terms have not yet been disclosed, although on Friday it was announced that he would be added to the practice squad.
Irvin’s addition comes on the heels of Khalil Mack’s ongoing recovery from a foot injury. Mack last played in a blowout defeat to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in late October. But even then, the veteran had seldom been a full participant in practices in the lead-up to games. Ever since Chicago has shut Mack down for the foreseeable future.
It appears three weeks of rest were not enough. Mack has continued to be a non-participant in practices in the Bears’ return from the bye week, and there is no word on how his recovery has progressed. Usually, it would be entirely reckless and pointless to speculate. Still, it is notable that an official NFL media mouthpiece like Rapoport makes a point to include Mack’s health status when reporting the Bears’ acquisition of another pass rusher.
Call me crazy, but a good hunch says Mack is not seen in full uniform in this Sunday’s matchup against the Ravens. Rather, he’ll be wearing some sort of Bears-branded hoodie, a beanie, and sweatpants. With the Bears on a short week due to a Thanksgiving Day visit to the Lions only a few days after that, I wouldn’t bet on the Bears playing him then, too. That means, more than likely, if all goes well, the earliest anyone sees Mack collapsing an offensive edge again would be in December, against Kyler Murray and the Cardinals. Not an ideal picture to be without your best player for so long, that’s for sure.
As for Irvin, the Bears will be his fifth team in as many years. The 34-year-old was last seen in an NFL game with the Seahawks in Week 2 of last season. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL then and was summarily placed on injured reserve before eventually becoming a free agent in the off-season.
If Irvin’s recovery from injury went well, the Bears could certainly use his presence. When healthy, he has been an effective pass rusher throughout his career. Case in point: the 2019 season when Irvin had 16 quarterback hits and 8.5 sacks with the Carolina Panthers. If there’s any hint of that player left, adding him into a rotation with Robert Quinn and Trevis Gipson at least keeps the Bears buoyed, somewhat, until Mack returns. If not, no harm, no foul, and you hope the defense keeps it together for a few more weeks.
With the Bears but a few days away from a critical matchup with the Ravens, it’s unclear how big of a role Irvin will play. Against a dynamic quarterback like Lamar Jackson, they could use all the help they can get.