Thursday, March 20, 2014
Incognito's return to Miami too far-fetched
By James Walker
Crazy things often happen in the NFL. But what are the chances embattled free-agent guard Richie Incognito re-signs with the Miami Dolphins?
Incognito told WSVN in Miami Wednesday night that returning to the Dolphins is his "No. 1 goal." He's coming off a wild offseason and is desperately looking for a job. Incognito also is naïve to think the Dolphins would invest millions more into a player at the center of their high-profile bullying scandal.
The Dolphins are trying to move forward, not backward. Re-signing Incognito would be an awful step for the Dolphins in the wrong direction. It would create an extension of the 2013 season, when Miami had to deal with an image and public relations fiasco that Incognito helped produce.
The Dolphins traded Jonathan Martin, who was a victim of harassment by Incognito and others, for a reason. They also fired former offensive line coach Jim Turner and former head trainer Kevin O'Neill as part of the fallout. The Dolphins are trying to wash their hands completely of this ugly saga. Imagine the mixed message Miami would send by making the aforementioned changes and still rewarding Incognito with a multimillion dollar contract. That idea is too far-fetched.
There is support for Incognito in Miami’s locker room. Many Dolphins players still believe last year's bullying scandal was overblown. Perhaps that is the glimmer of hope Incognito holds onto. But until center Mike Pouncey, long-snapper John Denney or another Miami player starts making roster decisions, locker room support doesn't amount to much.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said in January that he doesn't see a scenario where Martin or Incognito returns in 2014. It's coming from the very top of the organization that Incognito is not welcomed back. The Dolphins are a billion-dollar industry, and Incognito is bad for business.
For now, Incognito's primary focus should be getting his life in order. He's already had a brutal offseason that included the 144-page Ted Wells report, reportedly wrecking his Ferrari with a baseball bat and getting unspecified treatment at a mental health facility. Incognito must first prove that he's focused and able to contribute this upcoming season.
Eventually, some team may be willing to take a chance on Incognito in 2014. But that team will not be the Miami Dolphins.