In a somewhat surprising move, the Miami Dolphins have re-signed impending free agent Richie Incognito to a three-year deal, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. Financial terms have not yet been disclosed.
The move comes on the same day the NFL Players Association and the league's owners agreed to a 24-hour extension to work out an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement. Without such a deal, players with expiring contracts like Incognito would not hit the open market, and football operations around the league would cease.
Originally a third-round pick by the St. Louis Rams out of Nebraska in 2005, Incognito quickly drew a reputation around the league for his hot temper and what many considered to be a dirty style of play.
Incognito started 44 games for the Rams during his first five seasons, but was released by the team in 2009 after an altercation with head coach Steve Spagnuolo and finished out the season with the Buffalo Bills.
The Dolphins, who also placed a waiver claim on Incognito in 2009 before he went to the Bills, signed him to a one-year, $925,000 contract in the 2010 offseason. The deal included a $250,000 signing bonus.
Replacing Justin Smiley, who was traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars, Incognito started 15 games for the Dolphins at left guard and one at center in place of Joe Berger. The results were underwhelming, as the Dolphins' running game struggled for the first time in the Tony Sparano era and ranked 30th in the NFL in yards per carry.
I can't say I'm ecstatic about Incognito's re-signing, but it certainly seems like teams are scrambling to get some deals done with free agency nowhere in site. I also can't really judge the deal until I see the financial terms and guaranteed money.
Assuming this is a pretty inexpensive contract that doesn't guarantee Incognito much money or a starting job, this is a fine deal for the Dolphins, as it provides some consistency in personnel, a versatile guy that can play center and guard, and someone that at least has the potential to be a good player.
That doesn't change the fact that Incognito was highly ineffective in 2010 and was one part of the interior line trifecta that severely limited the Dolphins' running game.
If I had to guess, Incognito will probably work primarily at center this time around, where he finished the season in place of Berger and might have less demanded of him.
In that event, Nate Garner and John Jerry will project as the starting left and right guards, respectively. However, the team is likely to pursue a big-name free agent guard once the signing periods begins and could also look to the draft for help as well.
As always, check out the updated projected depth chart reflecting these transactions here.
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Chris J. Nelson majored in journalism at Georgia State University and currently works for Turner Sports in Atlanta. He operates his own Miami Dolphins website, The Miami Dolphins Spotlight, and he can be followed on Twitter here.
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