David Irving is featured on Instagram with a message Monday night.
The feeling of the Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman two weeks before he became an unrestricted free agent?
"I'm in the NFL because I'm great at what I do," wrote Irving, next to a picture of him dressed for a Cowboys game. "I'm not in the NFL because I'm an Eagle Scout, or the perfect Model Citizen, I did not wear a mask or a kiss to be where I am, I'm here for his natural abilities.It is God's plan.It is not mine.Make Me Trust, I also fit it.
"Once I'm in the field and I stop playing, THEN we have a problem … So, does anyone have anything to say about my play?"
Thirty-two NFL teams will be looking to answer this question this spring.
As Irving notes, his talent has been undeniable on the pitch for the Cowboys in recent seasons.
In 2017 and 2018, Irving scored eight sacks, 12 hits and 26 tackles. He also deflected six assists in 2017, setting up interceptions of hidden games for his teammates. He forced a fumble. He did it all in less than 400 assists.
That's where his problem lies.
Irving was active only eight games in 2017, opening the season with a four-game suspension for violating the league's drug policy. He missed the last four games after suffering a concussion during a win in Washington in November.
Irving opened the 2018 season again with a four-game suspension, this time for violation of the NFL's drug policy. He played two games in October before suffering what the Cowboys called a high ankle sprain. He rehabilitated and reported to the Cowboys headquarters inconsistently the rest of the season, while also dealing with family matters and off-camera. The Cowboys brought Irving on their roster of 53 players throughout the regular season and two playoff games. He was no longer active for a match after 21 October.
Result: Irving only played 32.3% of Cowboys defensive shots in 2017. This contribution fell to 5.5% of shots in 2018.
On the other hand, defender DeMarcus Lawrence played 67, then 71% of the defensive shots, even after tearing his rotator cuff mid-season. The Cowboys will soon seek a long-term deal for Lawrence. They placed a franchise label worth $ 17.1 million on him in 2018. The Cowboys issued a second round tender offer on Irving at the same time last spring.
Lawrence responded to the franchise designation with his second consecutive season with double-digit bags. He also proved his efficiency by stopping the race. He never held out, as did the star of the Le'Veon Bell franchise in Pittsburgh this season.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones reiterated Lawrence's importance to the team this season.
"The relationship is remarkable," Jones said last week.
Now, the brass cowboys spend the week in Indianapolis for the hunt for scouting. They will join the teams to explore the talent of this draft and deepen the discussions on contracts between teams and agents.
The teams have until March 5 to designate the players of the franchise. can officially start courting free agents on March 11; and may sign with unrestricted free players when the league's year ends on March 13th.
It is within this time that Irving, about to go into free mode, will see which teams want to play on him.
"Once I get on the field and stop playing, THEN we have a problem," Irving wrote Monday, more than four months away from the last day of the match in which he stepped on a field. "So, does anyone have anything to say about my play?"
Soon, 32 NFL teams will have a chance to answer.
Follow Jori Epstein from USA TODAY Sports on Twitter @JoriEpstein.
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