Updates from Tuesday, Aug. 26
Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports on Buccaneers' general manager Jason Licht's thoughts on their meeting with Richie Incognito on Monday:
GM Jason Licht: "We had a very constructive meeting with Richie. It went on for about 5 hours. He haven't ruled it out. He remains an option— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) August 26, 2014
Stroud later reported more on the market for Incognito and his discussion with the Buccaneers:
Coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht had dinner with Incognito and met for about five hours with the former Miami Dolphins lineman who was suspended for the final eight games of 2014. He also took a physical for the Bucs.
No contract agreement was reached but Incognito remains an option. According to multiple reports, at least three teams are interested in Incognito, who was cleared by the NFL to be signed and begin playing on Monday. Incognito would like to have a deal with a team by the end of the week.
Smith later spoke about Incognito (via Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times):
Lovie Smith says Richie Incognito answered all the questions during interview last night. Doesn't rule out adding him still ...— Greg Auman (@gregauman) August 26, 2014
Richie Incognito experienced a tumultuous 2013 season due to a bullying scandal involving former Miami Dolphins teammate Jonathan Martin, but he is working to make a comeback. His path might lead him to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with whom he will visit on Monday.
Jay Glazer of Fox Sports notes the two sides are set to meet:
Breaking: The Bucs are bringing Richie Incognito in for a visit today, could sign him if visit goes well. ... http://t.co/qKJTuEQPSm— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) August 25, 2014
Bucs are thin at guard & team has been looking for experience at the position.— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) August 25, 2014
In the link provided, Glazer also notes that Incognito hasn't set foot in a facility (NFL facility) since being suspended by the Dolphins on Nov. 4, 2013.
Later in the day, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Incognito cleared a major hurdle with the NFL:
NFL cleared former Dolphins G Richie Incognito on Monday for return to "full activity and regular-season game participation," per NFL source— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 26, 2014
Glazer shared his thoughts on the situation with Incognito:
I think Incognito has to win Bucs over in order to be signed. Certainly not a foregone conclusion. But they wisely want a first-hand look— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) August 25, 2014
Lovie Smith also spoke about the meeting with Incognito (via Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports and Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times):
Lovie Smith: "for me it doesn't hurt anything to talk face to face," he says of Incognito.— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) August 25, 2014
Lovie Smith on Incognito: "If you know my history, I do believe in second chances. To me, nobody should have a death sentence."— Greg Auman (@gregauman) August 25, 2014
Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports points out Incognito might have interest from other teams as well:
Incognito has gotten interest from multiple teams, despite baggage. Speaks to the lack of talent at the guard position across the league.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) August 25, 2014
While he missed much of last season, he started in eight contests for the Dolphins before being suspended. During his time in Miami, he missed just one start in three complete seasons prior to 2013 and made the Pro Bowl in 2012.
Even if Incognito signs with the Bucs, he would have to wait for a decision to be passed down by the NFL. Jeff Darlington of NFL.com explains the circumstances:
Keep in mind as Richie Incognito visits Bucs: He is not yet fully reinstated to play regular season. That’s been month-long sticking point.— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) August 25, 2014
Despite his talent on the field, Incognito will have to prove he's able to move on from the previous issues.
With the bullying scandal still following him, the current free-agent guard has tried to apologize in the past for his actions. During an interview with Glazer last November, Incognito commented on the situation (via Lindsay H. Jones of USA Today):
I'm not a racist. And to judge me by that one word is wrong. In no way shape or form is it ever acceptable for me to use that word even if it's friend to friend on a voicemail. I regret that.
My actions were coming from a place of love. No matter how bad and how vulgar it sounds, that's how we communicate, that's how our friendship was, and those are the facts and that's what I'm accountable for.
Getting a chance to suit up for the Buccaneers would help both sides in the future if he makes the team and shows he can put his past behavior behind him.
If he can prove he's beyond the Miami controversy, his play on the field can benefit the Buccaneers. With a desperate need at the position, Tampa Bay has a chance to shore up the position with Incognito if he's reinstated.
Should the Buccaneers sign Incognito?
The team has made several moves during the offseason to beef up the roster—guys like Mike Evans, Alterraun Verner and Josh McCown—but it might still struggle at the guard position. Incognito would prove to be a vital player on the interior of the offensive line.
As for Incognito, it would serve as a chance to move past the scandal in Miami and keep his NFL career alive. Though nothing is certain at this point, playing with the Buccaneers would also give him a chance to change his public perception.
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