In order to stop being pushed at the line of scrimmage, the Las Vegas Raiders signed Richie Incognito and Trent Brown in 2019. Although both linemen played well, it was the veteran guard that prove to be the team’s best free-agent addition last season.
Incognito’s problem has never been his play. More often than not, the guard has performed at a high level. His behavior off the field is what has hindered his otherwise stellar play. Whether it was with the Rams or the Dolphins, there’s always been something that overshadows his on-field prowess. Even when he joined the Raiders, there were concerns he would sooner or later comport erratically. For that reason, Las Vegas was able to get him at a bargain price in 2019. After being a model citizen in his first year with the team, they rewarded him with a new two-year $14 million contract.
The Return Outweigh the Cons
So far, the Raiders handling of Incognito has been great. Back in 2019, general manager Mike Mayock pointed out that not all players are choir boys to justify Incognito’s signing. He pointed out then that the team had a checks-and-balance system and the infrastructure to help him help himself. Basically, Incognito would be on a short leash and would be released with a minor offense. It seems like Mayock was right and Incognito remained free of trouble.
Moreover, Incognito’s performance on the field must’ve banished any doubts the Raiders had about his commitment. Last season, he commited just eight penalties, allowed nine pressures, and just one sack on 766 snaps. Those are Pro-Bowl numbers. Also, Pro Football Focus gave him a 88.5 pass-blocking grade last season, which was the second-best among guards.
While Incognito is 37 and it’s uncertain how long he can keep playing at a high level, he should be able to contribute the next two years. Last season, he missed two games due to a suspension, but once he settled at left guard, he never looked back.
The Raiders and Incognito benefited from the deal they struck back in 2019. Incognito has the incentive to keep playing the way he did then. Las Vegas’ offensive line remains intact, and with all the additions the team made earlier this year, Incognito can be part of something great. The Raiders trusted Incognito last year, it’s up to him to show it wasn’t a one-year thing and their decision will continue to pay off.
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Top Photo: Jeff Haynes/Associated Press