TAMPA, Fla. — FOX Sports NFL insider Jay Glazer reported Monday that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will bring in guard Richie Incognito for a visit. According to Glazer, the Bucs could sign Incognito if the meeting goes well.
Breaking: The Bucs are bringing Richie Incognito in for a visit today, could sign him if visit goes well. … http://t.co/qKJTuEQPSm
"In these situations, you trust the management — (general manager) Jason (Licht) and (coach) Lovie (Smith) and the guys and the decisions they make to try to help our football team," Bucs quarterback Josh McCown said. "And so no matter who it is, if anybody becomes an addition to our team, the thing that Lovie always talks about is embracing him and making him feel like one of us. So whatever happens with that, if that’s the case, then we’ll do that with him."
Incognito, a Pro Bowl player after the 2012 season, was part of the Miami Dolphins before he was at the center of a bullying scandal last season involving guard Jonathan Martin, now with the San Francisco 49ers. Incognito, a 10-year veteran, has not appeared in an NFL game since Oct. 31, 2013, against the Cincinnati Bengals, before vile text messages and alleged verbal abuse directed toward Martin were made public. Initially, Incognito was suspended for four games last year, but his absence lasted the rest of the regular season. He has remained unemployed since then.
The Bucs, meanwhile, have been thin at guard for much of the offseason and preseason. After the team parted ways with oft-injured guard Carl Nicks on July 25, Tampa Bay began training camp with a rotation of Jamon Meredith, Oniel Cousins, Patrick Omameh, Kadeem Edwards and Jace Daniels at the position, though Omameh and Cousins have received most of the first-team looks of late. Meredith has received more work at tackle lately, and the Bucs gained guard Rishaw Johnson in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs last Thursday in exchange for safety Kelcie McCray. Daniels was waived Sunday as Tampa Bay began trimming its roster to meet the 75-man limit by 4 p.m. Tuesday.
"I would like to talk to him myself," Smith said of Incognito. "And if you know my history, I do believe in second chances. To me, no one should have a death sentence. If you should, you’re probably in jail. And from there, what does it hurt to talk to someone? So for me, as we go forward, I’m not holier than thou. I’m going to give everybody the benefit of the doubt until I have information that tells me otherwise, and that’s where are right now, and part of that process is Richie coming in.
"Before we bring in anyone that would possibly be considered controversial, yes, I would consult our team leaders. That’s part of the process also. Everyone that’s here, they’ve been pretty much a part of the process."
Smith said he had not read the entire Wells report, which detailed in a lengthy finding released last February that there was a "pattern of harassment" toward Martin and others within the Dolphins. Smith said that Incognito’s visit, scheduled to begin Monday evening, would be part of a multi-layered process in the Bucs’ inspection of the player.
"I think he would know the gist of what’s going to happen," Bucs center Evan Dietrich-Smith said of Incognito. "Obviously, I think some of the older guys would probably have a little something to say to him. It wouldn’t be anything negative or anything like that. I don’t think they would let the man in the locker room if they felt that it wasn’t going to be a good fit.
"The bottom line is, it’s a business, and everybody understands the business side. … If they think that by bringing someone in can help our business, then that’s what they’re going to do, because we’re in the business of winning. And that’s what you do at the end of the day in the NFL."
Added defensive tackle Gerald McCoy: "I don’t care. As long as he can help us win, then that’s all I’m concerned about. And if there’s a problem, then we’ll deal with it accordingly. But as long as he’s doing what he’s supposed to do on the field, then I’m not concerned about anything else. … He would be coming to my team. So some stuff would have to change."
Still, Incognito would come with incredible baggage for a franchise looking to move beyond the dramatics that occurred in 2013, when a nasty divorce with former quarterback Josh Freeman and three MRSA cases dominated headlines. Monday, Smith spoke about how he would never introduce a player who would upset team chemistry into his locker room.
"Would I have a football player on our football team that I thought would mess up our team chemistry? The answer is no," Smith said. "Simple as that. But you don’t know, I can’t assume that’s the case. And to me, if you go through the process, you look and you talk face-to-face with everybody that’s available. That’s what we’re doing."
Still, Incognito’s visit brings intrigue for obvious reasons. Early indications suggest Bucs players would be willing to accept Incognito if he’s signed.
"We all make mistakes," Bucs offensive tackle Demar Dotson said. "And unfortunately, that was his mistake. We’re just hoping that that’s not how he feels inside, and that was just a one-time mistake, and he’ll learn from it, and he won’t make it again."