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At least Richie Incognito isn’t a stranger to drama.
You probably didn’t expect Incognito to become such an odd story this offseason. The Buffalo Bills guard said he was going to retire last month, then said he wasn’t going to retire, and now he officially wants to play again. ESPN’s Adam Schefter said Incognito told the Bills he wants to keep playing. The Bills, perhaps fed up with the ordeal, released Incognito from the reserve/retired list.
That means Incognito, a Pro Bowl guard each of the last three seasons, is a free agent.
A weird offseason for Richie Incognito
Incognito was cruising along with the Bills, having made three Pro Bowls in three seasons after being out of the NFL in 2014. He was out of the league for a year after being the focal point of the infamous Miami Dolphins locker room bullying scandal. Incognito was accused of verbal abuse of fellow offensive lineman Jonathan Martin.
It’s fairly amazing Incognito was able to add such a successful chapter to his NFL career after that, but this offseason has been strange. He said he was retiring on April 10, and confirmed the retirement to Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News, saying he was walking away because his liver and kidneys were shutting down from the wear and tear of playing football. Then three days later he tweeted at the Bills saying he’d see them for the start of the offseason program at the start of the following week.
While this was amazingly confusing, the Bills took him at his original word and put him on the reserve/retired list.
Buffalo Bills didn’t force Incognito to stay
The Bills releasing Incognito was some random news on a Monday in May, and it’s also a little surprising because Buffalo needs offensive line help. The Bills lost three offensive linemen this offseason: tackle Cordy Glenn (trade), Incognito (supposed retirement), and center Eric Wood (real retirement).
The Bills had Incognito under contract and could have forced him to play for them, if he wanted to come back. They cut him instead.
Will Incognito find another team?
There are enough teams with offensive line needs that Incognito will get some interest on the free-agent market.
Presumably, teams will wonder what the heck was with the retirement/unretirement drama this offseason. Incognito also discussed how his organs were failing, so perhaps we shouldn’t assume he’d pass a physical if he is signed. Also, Incognito is 34 years old, and there still is the past drama with the Dolphins to consider. It’s not quite as easy as a gold rush for a Pro Bowl guard hitting the market in May, when there are rarely any good free agents available.
But Incognito is officially free to sign somewhere else. And good offensive linemen are hard to find.
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