Are the Buffalo Bills frustrated with the demands of Richie Incognito?
Richie Incognito was suspended by the Miami Dolphins for conduct detrimental to the team in November of 2013 after reports surfaced accusing him of bullying his teammate Jonathan Martin. He was suspended for the remainder of the season and his contract was up at the end of that year making him a free agent.
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He was unable to find a job with a team in the 2014 offseason. He was a good guard with the Dolphins but apparently he was not talented enough for a team to take a chance on him considering what they perceived to be character issues.
The Buffalo Bills needed help on the interior of their offensive line heading into 2015 offseason. They were willing to give Incognito another shot to prove he was a changed man and could be a positive influence on and off the field for a team. The Bills brought in Richie for a visit to do their due diligence on him. After the meeting, they felt satisfied that he was remorseful for the past and could help their team in the future.
The Buffalo Bills decided to sign the former Miami Dolphins guard to a one-year contract worth $1.1 million. Incognito received a $900,000 base salary with a $100,000 signing bonus and a $100,000 workout bonus according to Spotrac.com.
Incognito proved the Bills were right to take a chance on him in 2015. He was a positive influence in the locker room. Reporters loved him because of his honest responses to questions rather than the typical player who will generally just spew out clichés in order to say as little as possible in interviews with the media.
He had a terrific year on the field as well. He was selected as a Pro Bowl alternate and eventually would play in the game in Hawaii. Pro Football Focus rated him as the second-best guard in the entire league last year.
The Bills only inked Incognito to a one-year deal so he is now a free agent again. Buffalo was hoping he would be willing to take a hometown discount since they took a chance on him the season before. That does not seem likely now according to a report by Mike Florio from Pro Football Talk. Florio reported that the Bills are getting frustrated with his contract demands during negotiations.
Some may think that Incognito owes the Bills since they took a chance on him. If they had not signed him, he wouldn’t have been able to demonstrate to the other NFL teams that he has changed his behavior and that he can still compete with the best in the league. On the other hand, Incognito was never one of the premier guards in the league until this past season. His career earnings to date are slightly over $16 million in eleven seasons in the league. This work out to $1.5 million per year on average.
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While most people think $16 million is a lifetimes worth of money, it’s not considered a large sum of money by NFL standards. There are 19 players in the NFL who have average salaries on their current contracts that are greater than Incognito’s lifetime earnings. He will be 33 years old when next season starts and this could be his last contract. It’s hard to blame him for wanting to finally cash in on his best season in the NFL.
So what does a contract for Incognito look like? Take a look at the below chart of comparable players from Spotrac.com. According to their site Richie’s market value should be about a two-year, $10 million dollar deal which averages out to $5 million per year. The Bills should work off this number.
If Buffalo doesn’t want to pay him $5 million per season they might be able to get away with giving him something along the lines of $4-$4.5 million over three years for a total contract value of $12-$13.5 million. If other teams are not willing to give him a third year this could be one way to get him to sign without increasing the amount that they will pay him each year.
Buffalo certainly could use his services in 2016 on the left side of their line. Our site has written in the past that this is the second most important offseason priority for the Buffalo Bills after freeing up salary cap space. Let’s hope that Richie Incognito and the Buffalo Bills can come to terms on a reasonable deal that works well for both sides.