Other than being accused of uttering a racial slur directed at Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue — which ultimately resulted in the two men “hugging it out,” according to Ngakoue — Incognito has pretty much been blemish-free in his second stint in Buffalo.
Still, Incognito, who has received Pro Bowl nominations the past three years, will turn 35 in July and carries a cap hit of $7.575 million for the 2018 season. Who’s to say that that Incognito, who’s been accused of bullying dating back to his college days at Nebraska, hasn’t worn out his welcome with no-nonsense head coach Sean McDermott? Only time will tell, but in the meantime, here are three pending free-agent guards that the Bills should consider bringing in as replacements for Incognito if they decide to grab more salary cap and dump Incognito. All of these players could solidify the position for years to come.
Andrew Norwell, 26, Carolina Panthers
Undrafted out of Ohio State in 2014, Norwell quickly made a name for himself with the Panthers. He started nine games as a rookie with the team and has upped his game each year since. He was named a First-team All-Pro this past season. Norwell is considered the consensus top prize available at the position, so it wouldn’t be about saving money, it would be about solidifying the position for the long-term.
Justin Pugh, 27, New York Giants
Pugh, the 19th pick of the 2013 draft, has been a starter for the Giants since coming into the league. New York’s o-line has taken a lot of flack the last few years for failing to adequately protect Eli Manning, but Pugh has been a bright spot in the otherwise gloominess. Although, he’s clearly at his best at the guard position, Pugh has taken reps for the Giants as a tackle during two separate seasons.
Josh Kline, 28, Tennessee Titans
Similarly to Norwell, Kline also went undrafted. He didn’t play a lot during his first couple of seasons in the league, but has established himself as a bona fide starter over the past three years. Like the other two names on this list, Kline is expected to be one of the of most sought after free agents at the position. He spent the first three seasons of his career with the New England Patriots before playing the last two seasons with the Titans.
As good as each of these players are, it figures to be really hard for the Bills to replace Incognito. Aside from last season, the Bills have been immensely successful rushing the football during the veteran’s tenure, and undoubtedly he’s had a lot to with that.
With the team recently losing its captain on the offensive line, Eric Wood, to a shocking early retirement, this offseason would be less than an ideal time to willfully lose the most consistent blocker remaining on the line.
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