After working out for Broncos on Monday, Richie Incognito will have to keep looking. Denver, despite having a desperately thin offensive line, has decided to pass—for now—on signing the controversial-but-talented guard, who hasn't played in the NFL in over a year.
The Broncos are firing on nearly all cylinders, save their run game. They rank 25th in yards per attempt, and 26th in yards per game. They've been shuffling their O-line all season in attempts to address the obvious problems—just this past Sunday they moved All-Pro guard Louis Vasquez to tackle, center Manny Ramirez to guard, and started Will Montgomery at center for the first time this year. In short: they're desperate. And Incognito, if he can play anything like he did the last time we saw him, would be an upgrade.
But it's been a very long time since we saw Richie Incognito. He was suspended after last season's Week 8 after reports emerged of his harassment of teammate Jonathan Martin. The CBA only allowed for a four-game ban, but as more and more information came out, Incognito became increasingly toxic to the Dolphins, to they reached a deal to pay Incognito to sit out the remainder of the season. Finally, in February, the results of an NFL-commissioned independent investigation were released, and they showed Incognito to be a shithead of the highest order.
Except, this sport is full of shitheads. Abusers and bullies and harassers and just straight up bastards that no one can stand. And for the most part, all that comes a distant third place to how good you are at football. (Second place is how much you cost.) Incognito is, at least theoretically, still a good football player. At the time of his suspension, Pro Football Focus had him rated as the league's 13th best guard (out of 71).
Yet Incognito can't find a taker, despite a handful of teams kicking his tires from the moment he was reinstated in late August. This line, buried at the bottom of a Jay Glazer report, feels ominous:
Incognito visited the Chiefs and the Bucs this season and in both cases, each team got skittish after numerous calls from people inside the NFL were made and no deals were ever consummated.
Incognito's 31 now, but his redemption contract (prorated as it'll be) would come relatively cheap. He missed training camp and 10 weeks of the regular season, but he'd clearly be a pickup for the playoffs. He's a big dumb jerk, but he can't possibly destroy a locker room in the couple of months he'd have.
He'd have signed with a team long ago if not for last season's controversy, that's for sure. I'd even wager Incognito would have a job right now if not for Ray Rice and Greg Hardy and Adrian Peterson, none of whose actions are in the same phylum as Incognito's, but all fall under the NFL's reactionary sensitivity designed to reclaim a moral high ground it never owned. If Incognito can't catch on with the Broncos—a playoff-bound team with a stable locker room, just a few moves shy of shoring up their one glaring weakness—it's hard to see him catching on anywhere.