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Poll: what should the Buffalo Bills do with Richie Incognito this offseason?

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Buffalo Bills fans share their offseason plans for guard Richie Incognito

As the Buffalo Bills head into the offseason, they are looking at places where they could save money or improve over incumbents at several positions. We continue our look delving into 34-year-old Richie Incognito and the team’s left guard spot.

2017 Review

(by Jeff Kantrowski aka Skarecrow)

By no means is this a guaranteed predictor of success, but Incognito has made the Pro Bowl every year since returning to football with the Bills. Perhaps more compellingly, in what was an embarrassingly bad game for the entire team (we analyze here) there were no shortage of plays to highlight what Incognito brings to the table. He has his flaws. For instance, like everyone else on the line he was pretty bad at the diving blocks Dennison was having them do. But if you’re looking for a case study on how to play guard in the NFL, Incognito is a good place to start.

[Richie’s hands are quick when he needs them. He can give up zero ground as a result of quick jabs rather than a power move. He does a good job pulling, using his peripheral vision, and has good power when he wants it plus he finishes plays to the whistle.]

Richie’s reputation of being dirty and mean can’t be ignored either. From a review of the 2017 season, it would appear it hasn’t entirely disappeared either. On a McCoy TD run against Miami, he repeatedly shoved Kiko Alonso to the ground. The audio might not be available, but the video evidence would suggest some fourth quarter “beef” with Jacksonville Jaguars DE Yannick Ngakoue, including a little shoving. What’s notable these days though is that it seems to end at the whistle. He brings an edge, but it’s a focused one.

Salary cap ramifications

(by Matt Warren)

Incognito’s cap hit was set up to balloon in 2018 with a substantial increase in base salary. His compensation jumps from just under $3.7 million in salary and a roster bonus in 2017 to $6.325 million in 2018. His cap hit moves from just under $5 million to nearly $7.6 million. In short, it’s a lot more expensive for Incognito to be on the field in 2018 than it was in 2017.

Releasing Incognito at this point would save Buffalo more than $6 million in cap space but create another gaping hole in the middle of the offensive line and because his play hasn’t declined, it would be a purely cap-related move (depending on your take of his extra-curricular jawing with opposing players). So if the Bills really need the money, Incognito is a place to look for a lot of cap relief.

Buffalo could re-work his deal and turn a portion of that hefty salary into a signing bonus while extending him for an additional year or two to spread out the cap hit, too.

2018 cap hit: $7.575 million
Salary due: $6.325 million
Dead money: $1.15 million
Cap savings if released: $6.425 million

In-house replacement options

(by Sean Murphy)

If the Bills were to move on from Incognito, they do have a potential successor on the roster in guard John Miller. The soon-to-be 24 year-old is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and with the team switching back to a power-based rushing scheme like the one employed by former offensive coordinators Greg Roman and Anthony Lynn, a return to stronger play for the Louisville product is probable.

The problem with putting Miller into the lineup and releasing Incognito is that the scheme shift also makes it possible that the team’s other guard, Vlad Ducasse, could be on the chopping block, as he performed better in the zone-based scheme employed by former offensive coordinator Rick Dennison.

Veteran replacement options

(by Tristan Garnett)

All of these players could solidify the position for years to come. 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.

Andrew Norwell, 26, Carolina Panthers
Norwell started nine games as an undrafted rookie with the team and was named a First-team All-Pro this past season. Norwell is considered the consensus top prize available at the position.

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.

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.

2018 NFL Draft options

(by Andrew Griffin aka Grif)

One of the elite prospects in this draft, Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson is rock-solid in both pass protection and run-blocking. A fit for both a zone blocking scheme as well as a power gap scheme, look for Nelson to be a top-15 draft selection.

Prospects in this tier fall into two separate archetypes: huge, tough immovable objects or smaller, athletic technicians. Isaiah Wynn is in the latter group along with Sean Welsh, but both managed to hold their own against bigger and stronger defensive tackles at the Senior Bowl. Will Hernandez is the closest you’re going to get to a collegiate version of Richie Incognito himself, with his toughness and ability to finish. Braden Smith, Wyatt Teller, and Tony Adams all have the powerful frames necessary to excel in a power blocking scheme.

Tier III prospects have their fair share of weaknesses, and may get drafted on the third day of the draft because of them, but their upside in certain schemes is intriguing. Skyler Phillips comes is a small school prospect who can beat blockers to the punch, but has trouble sustaining his blocks. Sam Jones and Austin Corbett are too small for most schemes but could thrive in an outside zone scheme. Taylor Hearn and KC McDermott would make great developmental prospects for whichever team drafts them, as they have ideal NFL size.

Buffalo Bills v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

With all the information now at your disposal, it’s time to make up your mind. You’re the brain trust at One Bills Drive. Which option is the best call? Discuss in the comments section, too.

Poll

What should the Bills do with Richie Incognito this season?

This poll is closed

  • 34%
    Keep him on his current contract for $7.5 million in 2018
    (618 votes)
  • 59%
    Give him a contract extension to keep him locked up through at least 2019
    (1077 votes)
  • 2%
    Release him to save $6.4 million in cap space, rely on John Miller
    (41 votes)
  • 1%
    Release him to save $6.4 million in cap space, add a big-name free agent
    (34 votes)
  • 2%
    Release him to save $6.4 million in cap space, draft his replacement
    (44 votes)
1814 votes total Vote Now