Argos add controversial former Dallas Cowboys pass rusher David Irving to negotiation list

Photo courtesy: Dallas Cowboys

The Toronto Argonauts have garnered a reputation for signing big name former NFL pass rushers and it appears that they have their next target already lined up.

Former Dallas Cowboys’ defensive tackle David Irving was added to the team’s negotiation list on February 14, ensuring that the Argos have secured his exclusive rights should he ever decide to come north.

The six-foot-seven, 275-pound Irving was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Kansas City Chiefs following the 2015 NFL Draft, but was poached off the practice roster by Dallas during his rookie season. His best year came in 2017, when he finished second on the team with seven sacks despite only playing in eight games.

Over the course of his NFL career, Irving has played in 37 games, recording 56 tackles, 12.5 sacks, five forced fumbles and 12 pass deflections. However, the Iowa State University product’s time in Dallas came to an abrupt end after a series of controversies.

Irving’s stellar 2017 season was marred by a positive test for performance enhancing drugs, which caused him to miss the first four games of that year with suspension. After a concussion with lasting complications cost him the end of that campaign, Irving was again suspended for the first four games of 2018 after violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy for cannabis. He would end up playing just two games that season due to a high ankle sprain.

In March of 2019, the NFL served Irving with an indefinite suspension after he again tested positive for marijuana. In retaliation, the defensive lineman — who said in a social media post following his first suspension that he had played every game of his career while intoxicated — retired from the league in protest.

The NFL reinstated Irving in October of 2020 following a change to their cannabis testing policy. He came out of retirement as a member of the Las Vegas Raiders, switching between the practice roster and the game day inactive list for the remainder of the 2020 season. Irving was released by the Raiders in May of 2021.

The San Jacinto, California native indicated as recently as last August that he desired to return to the NFL and participated in the HUB Football free agent combine in October. However, the 28-year-old has expanded into other interests, including acting and boxing.

Irving was victorious in his first professional heavyweight fight on February 5, while his first cinematic appearance, an action thriller titled Pursuit in which he appears alongside Emile Hirsch and Joan Cusack, was released on February 18.

The controversial pass rusher has made clear on social media that he no longer wants to be viewed as a one-dimensional athlete and values the ability to explore all his interests. In that regard, Toronto makes sense as a possible landing spot, with a thriving film scene and plenty of opportunities for his business ventures in legal cannabis.

Despite him earning more than $4 million USD over the course of his NFL career, the Argos could try to lure Irving to the centre of the universe for one last crack at pro football, just as they did former high profile NFL draft picks Shane Ray and Kony Ealey last season. Slimmed down from his NFL days, Irving’s combination of burst, power and reach would be a nightmare for opposing offences whether on the interior or off the edge.

Abbott is a UBC student, youth coach and lifelong CFL fanatic. He specializes in coverage of the CFL draft and the league's global initiative.