The Colts have way too many question marks on the offensive line, but free agent guard Richie Incognito could be the answer.
Former Dolphin lineman Richie Incognito has a history of success in the league. He has blocked for the incredibly successful rushing teams and has a reputation of being a strong blocker in the passing game. He has consistently ranked as a top guard in Pro Football Focus’ (subscription required) guard ratings, never having been below No. 32 since 2009. The 31-year-old pass protector made a Pro Bowl in 2012 and is consistently a rugged presence in the trenches.
However, Incognito possesses a certain stigma that prevents him from being signed to an NFL team.
Incognito has been known for being one of the dirtiest players in the NFL. He’s not afraid to rough up opposing defenders in the trenches and always seems to have something to say after every down. Most recently, Incognito was involved in a bullying scandal involving former Dolphins teammate Jonathan Martin. His grit and meanness make him an unattractive option on the line because he almost always brings penalties and distractions. Known for multiple facemasks and unnecessary roughness penalties, Incognito is no stranger to the league-enacted fine.
But the Colts should give Richie Incognito a chance.
It’s no secret that the Colts’ offensive line is one of the most pitiful in the NFL. The tackle spots are solid, but with a hobbled center and two inexperienced, untested guards, there is major room for improvement. Enter Incognito, who would come in as the oldest lineman on the roster, a huge veteran boost. If the Colts hurried and picked him up, Incognito would have at least two preseason games to get in tune with the offensive playbook and find a chemistry with other guys on the line.
As far as his off-field issues with Martin, the issue has been resolved and in the past. In fact, it could work in the favor of the Colts due to Incognito’s reduced price tag because of the problems. The fact of the matter is that Incognito still has NFL-caliber talent and can contribute to any roster.
When guard Donald Thomas re-tore his quad in practice and starting center Khaled Holmes went down with injured an ankle in the first preseason game, the Colts remaining offensive line didn’t perform well at all. Jonotthan Harrison couldn’t get anything going after stepping in with the first team at center and Jack Mewhort wasn’t as good as fans would’ve hoped. A veteran at a smaller salary to brought in for a year as stability and depth could do the Colts a lot of good.
One of Incognito’s greatest abilities is his versatility. While he excels most at the left guard spot (currently filled by Mewhort), Incognito plays all over the line, including the center position. If Richie Incognito is brought in as nothing more than depth, it will at least ensure that we have someone with experience playing on the line.
In regards to Incognito’s history of careless actions on the field, it may be something that the Colts are able to afford. Indianapolis finished best in the league in penalties last season, recording just 35.4 penalty yards per game. Obviously, penalties are never a good thing and that stat is one to boast, but if the Colts were to sign Incognito along with his temper flares, there’s a little bit of room to work with to allow some increased penalties. It’s a great trade-off for the ability he brings to the line.
Overall, Incognito is still a good player who is not on an NFL roster. The Colts need a left guard who can play with a chip on his shoulder.
It’s a match made in heaven.