Tyler Dunne of the Buffalo News was first to report the deal before Incognito confirmed his return:
Who's ready for 3 more years of DOMINATION in Buffalo!!!! @buffalobills— Richie Incognito (@68INCOGNITO) March 8, 2016
Jeff Darlington of NFL Network reported the deal is worth $15.75 million.
"We definitely took a discount to stay in Buffalo. ... I owed it to them," Incognito said, per Mike Rodak of ESPN.
“It was a major point of emphasis this offseason because you love to have those big uglies up there for continuity sake, and the longer you can keep them together, the better they are going to be,” said Bills general manager Doug Whaley. “And again, Jim Overdorf has done wonders with always having cap space and money available for us to get the most important people done.”
Incognito missed half of the 2013 season and the entire 2014 campaign following the infamous bullying scandal that erupted involving Jonathan Martin during their time together with the Miami Dolphins. The situation cast a shadow of doubt on whether the guard would ever get another NFL opportunity.
After an extended wait, the Bills signed him last February shortly after hiring Rex Ryan, who proclaimed his intent to "build a bully" as their new head coach. The lineman had previously spent part of the 2009 season with the organization.
"Treats us like men," Incognito said of Ryan, per Sal Capaccio of WGR550. "Guys love him. Love the environment."
"I've played for coaches who are scared of their own shadow. Rex is not that. ... I think we have something special growing," Incognito added, per Dunne.
Although the decision came with risk, Incognito did his part to showcase he was worth the investment.
Not only did he stay out of the negative spotlight off the field, but he also provided some much-needed stability up front. He was a bright spot for an otherwise lackluster offensive line that rated in the bottom third of the NFL in both run blocking and pass protection, according to Football Outsiders.
Incognito stated in early January that returning to Buffalo would be a "big priority." He also admitted his strong play put him in a good position and he'd have to see how things played out, as noted by Dunne:
I'm in a very good position right now moving forward contractually and financially. I held up my end of the bargain. I played really well. I played at a high level. I played the best football of my career, so that stuff takes care of itself. I have people who handle that on the business end. Now, it's time for them to go to work.
Ultimately, Incognito does end up back with the Bills. The signing doesn't come with nearly as many question marks as it did one year ago, and keeping him in the fold is a crucial offseason victory for a team that couldn't afford another weak spot along the line.
"I really think we have the key pieces in place to take the next step," Incognito said, per Dunne.
At 32, it's fair to wonder how many more high-end seasons the Nebraska product has left. But the time away from football seemed to rejuvenate him from a physical perspective, as he didn't show any signs of wearing down last season.
Buffalo still has other roster issues to deal with before the offseason comes to a close if it wants to end its 16-year playoff drought. Keeping Incognito crosses one potential need off the list, though.