While the first couple of waves of free agency have passed, it's never too late to upgrade the roster, something the Cowboys will try to do at the end of this month with the NFL Draft.
Even with that, the majority of the 2018 roster is already in place. In the coming weeks, the staff of DallasCowboys.com will preview those players, analyzing where they've been and where they're going.
Today, we continue the series with defensive tackle David Irving.
Views of #95 Defensive Lineman David Irving from the 2017-18 Regular Season.
What's Been Good:
When he was on the field last fall, Irving was a dominant and disruptive force at a level that isn't often seen from a defensive tackle. He returned from a four-game suspension in October and immediately made his presence felt, posting two sacks and five tackles in a dramatic, last-second loss to Green Bay. That wouldn't be his only impact, either, as he finished the season with 22 tackles and a whopping seven sacks in just eight games. Paired alongside Maliek Collins, Irving played like the most disruptive interior pass rusher since 2013, when Rod Marinelli was working with Jason Hatcher. It was also an encouraging improvement from 2016, when Irving provided four sacks as a role player, as it showed his ability as a starter in this scheme.
What's Been Bad:
All of that good stuff happened when Irving was in the lineup for the Cowboys. Unfortunately, the biggest knock against him is that he hasn't proven himself capable of staying there. As was already mentioned, Irving was suspended for the first four games of 2017 for violating the NFL's policy on performance enhancing drugs. Then, in the Nov. 30 win against Washington, he took a blow to the head and didn't come out of the game. He eventually sacked Kirk Cousins in that game, but the concussion forced him out of the remainder of the season. All told, he missed four games due to suspension and another four due to injury. It seems fair to say that the Cowboys don't completely trust him to be available, and that's why the front office only extended him a second round tender last month at the outset of free agency.
Irving played out of his mind against Green Bay, but the Cowboys ultimately lost that game. Instead, how about the first meeting against Washington, in the middle of a monsoon at FedEx Field? Irving finished with four tackles and two sacks – and his timing was impeccable. His first sack came on a 3rd-and-6 in the second quarter, with Washington holding a 13-7 lead. On the ensuing play, Irving helped Tyrone Crawford block a Nick Rose field goal – which Orlando Scandrick eventually returned to the Washington 2-yard line. His second sack came in the final minute of the health, helping to kill a Washington scoring attempt.
For the time being, at least, it looks like Irving will be back in the middle of the Cowboys' defensive front this fall. Since he is a restricted free agent, the front office extended Irving a second-round tender back in March, which is essentially a one-year, $2.9 million contract. Other NFL clubs have until April 20 to make him a better offer – but none have approached as of yet. Assuming he plays this season under the tender, he will have one more year to make an impression before he hits unrestricted free agency. If he can continue to produce in 2018 like he did in 2017, without the hiccups, he could be in line for quite a payday – whether that's in Dallas or elsewhere.
- David Irving is unique in his approach to the game, but there is no question of his talent.
- He has tremendous value on several different levels but is wildly inconsistent when it come to his availability.
- Initially, it was believed by the fan base that front office didn't tender him the right round when it came to his restricted contract but so far he has received no offers.
- He has the ability to take over games when he's on. He is as disruptive as they come when on the field. He can be a nightmare for centers and guards to deal with, down after down.
- When he hits the gap, he is difficult to stop. He is all arms and legs, making himself small to get through the hole.
- Plays with impressive upper body power. Has the length to control blockers. So smooth, it's like he's not trying -- but he is.
- I would like to see him play an entire season and rack up some numbers because the ability is there to do just that. If he's able to do that, then it's very likely a huge payday awaits him.