Less than five full months into 2018, it’s already been quite the year for left guard Richie Incognito. The Buffalo Bills officially announced his release today. Incognito was on the reserve/retired list.
Incognito earned his third straight Pro Bowl nod in 2017, making it a perfect three for three in his career renaissance with Buffalo. Despite this, the Bills restructured his contract this offseason. The modified contract represented a pay cut for the guard. At the time, this was seen as a shrewd move by Brandon Beane.
Not long after, Incognito announced the firing of his agent via Twitter, which was quickly followed by news of his retirement, citing health issues. Incognito reported dissatisfaction with the restructured contract, but claimed it was not the reason for his retirement.
Prior to OTAs starting for the Buffalo Bills, Incognito quipped on Twitter that he may show up. The wide belief that he was joking turned out to be correct. As OTAs came and went, Richie was a no-show. His social media presence also seemed to bow out, with radio silence from the fan favorite since since April 15th, the day before OTAs began.
With his release, it opens the door a little wider to speculation about his future. The only information alluding to medical problems came from Incognito himself via social media, and he did not rule out a return to the game. The move likely comes with some intention behind it. On the reserve/retired list, Incognito was still officially a Buffalo Bill but did not count toward the 90-man roster. The release opens the door for Richie to sign at will with any team, including the Buffalo Bills. Fans holding out hope for a reunion can cling to the idea that this was a show of good faith after earlier negotiations left at least one party unsatisfied. On the flip side, this move could also signify that the Bills are no longer willing to be associated with the controversial Incognito with a symbolic act intended to sever ties permanently.