The Las Vegas Raiders have a very talented offensive line but the group rarely plays together. Multiple starters have missed significant time over the last two seasons. Richie Incognito was one of the team’s best players in 2019 but only played in two games last season.
Considering the Raiders can save over $5.4 million in cap space if they cut, it’s reasonable to speculate that his days in Las Vegas are over. However, according to The Athletic’s Vic Tafur, Incognito wants to return:
But three months later, Incognito, 37, is already back running and is ready to return to the Raiders next season. It’s not a done deal, as Incognito’s $5 million salary for next season is not guaranteed, and the Raiders are currently over the cap.
I doubt that Gruden messes with Incognito’s money, given how much he loves the guard’s intensity and thinks that his leadership was missed last season. Incognito played at a very high level in 2019, and last season’s injury was not as serious as originally feared.
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More Details on Incognito’s Injury
The biggest concern with potentially bringing back Incognito is his health. But as Tafur pointed out, he’s actually healthier than the team expected.
“Incognito was believed to have a cyst on his Achilles tendon — until doctors found the bone fragment in there,” Tafur reported.
If Incognito is expected to be healthy, then it could be wise to give him another chance. He was an absolute stud for the team in 2019. He’s one of the best guards in the NFL when healthy. $5 million for a Pro Bowl-level player isn’t that much money. Also, he brings a lot of grit and leadership to a young team. 2020 fourth-round pick John Simpson will likely take over for Incognito at some point but he isn’t ready yet. Give Simpson one more year to learn under Incognito and he could develop into a really good player.
Raiders OL Could Look Different in 2021
The Raiders spend a ton of money on their offensive line. While that’s usually a recipe for success, it hasn’t worked in the team’s favor. Incognito, Trent Brown and Kolton Miller all missed multiple games last year. Rodney Hudson and Gabe Jackson missed time in 2019. When all five are together and healthy, they might be the best group in the NFL. Unfortunately, they haven’t had a chance to all play together all that much and there’s a real shot they will never be able to.
The Raiders have huge needs all over their defense but no money to spend. If they hope to upgrade the defense in free agency, they’re going to need to cut some spending on offense. Brown, Incognito and Jackson are all making a ton of money but each could get let go with no dead money. It’s unlikely the Raiders let go of all three but it’s possible that at least one gets released. Brown seems the most likely as he’s the highest-paid but has only played in 16 games in two seasons.