Seahawks not expected to exercise Bruce Irvin's fifth-year option

The Seattle Seahawks are not expected to pick up the fifth-year option on outside linebacker Bruce Irvin's contract.

The news was first reported by NFL.com late Wednesday.

It means Irvin would become a free agent after playing out his rookie contract in 2015. The team has until Sunday to pick up the option, which would cost $7.8 million in 2016. Irvin, a first-round draft pick out of West Virginia in 2012, will make $1.6 million this season.

NBC Sports also is reporting Irvin could be traded to the Atlanta Falcons sometime during the NFL draft, which starts Thursday evening. Irvin is from Atlanta, and the Falcons need an edge pass-rusher. It also would mean Irvin would play for new Falcons coach Dan Quinn, who was the defensive coordinator with the Seahawks before taking the Atlanta job in February.

Irvin has not said anything directly except for one tweet Wednesday that seemed to refer to his contract situation.

If the Seahawks don't pick up Irvin's option, it will be the second year in a row a starting player was allowed to play out his rookie deal. Seattle did not pick up the option on left guard James Carpenter, who signed with the New York Jets in March.

Carpenter had the best season of his career in 2014, knowing he needed to show other teams what he could do. That type of motivation would be the same for Irvin if he stays in Seattle this season. Irvin is coming off a strong 2014 season during which he had 6.5 sacks and two interceptions returned for touchdowns.

The Seahawks are in a situation where they must create salary-cap space for new deals that are coming for quarterback Russell Wilson and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner. Committing nearly $8 million to Irvin in 2016 would make those contracts more difficult to complete.