ALAMEDA, Calif. — The Raiders signed Richie Incognito, a four-time Pro Bowl guard who has dealt with mental health issues and could face an NFL suspension, to a one-year contract Tuesday.
Incognito, 35, immediately stepped into the mix Tuesday, practicing at first-team left guard during organized team activities. He and Denzelle Good, who missed practice to injury, are expected to compete for that starting role in the coming months.
Incognito was out of football in 2018 following three straight Pro Bowl seasons with the Buffalo Bills. In 2012, he won the Miami Dolphins’ Media Good Guy award for how he conducted himself with local reporters.
He also brings a checkered past into Oakland.
“I think whenever he’s been focused on activities solely on the field, he’s been fine,” Raiders general manager Mike Mayock said before practice. “We’ve done a one-year, ‘prove it’ deal with him, and that means prove it both on and off the field. There’s expectations he’s got to meet in both areas. We think he’s going to be a good football player and allow himself to compete for the left guard job. Just as importantly, he’s got to prove it off the field.”
Financially, there appears to be minimal risk in his one-year deal.
Beyond that, the move represents a measure of faith from the Raiders.
Incognito’s history includes a number of problematic incidents. Those include multiple suspensions in college at Nebraska for behavioral issues. The Dolphins suspended him in 2013 for conduct detrimental to the team as part of a bullying scandal related to then-teammate Johnathan Martin. Last May, he reportedly was placed under “involuntary mental evaluation” following an incident at a fitness center in Boca Raton, Florida.
In August, following his father’s death, Incognito was arrested at a funeral parlor in Scottsdale, Arizona, after reportedly threatening at least one employee while referencing guns in his truck. Police later found multiple guns inside it.
Mayock acknowledged Incognito could face league discipline for past events. It’s possible Incognito wins the Raiders’ left guard job but, due to a suspension, is unavailable for their Sept. 9 opener against the Denver Broncos. He impressed coaches and scouts during a visit to Alameda on May 6.
“We’ve got a plan,” Mayock said. “He’s going to stay to that plan. He agreed a couple weeks ago. We talked about the infrastructure he would need. He was quite honest with me. We had a one-on-one meeting with the door closed where I asked him specifically what he would need not only to be a good football player but to be a really good human being. We went through a lot more than the football. …
“We’re going to meet with our player engagement people after practice. We’ve got our clinician coming in (Wednesday), and I’m not going to go into any more of that other than to say, the infrastructure will be here for him to use.”
A source close to Incognito characterized him presently as in a good place mentally. Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson, who coached him in 2006 and 2007 with the St. Louis Rams, said Incognito looked “young for his age” during this month’s workout and “brings a tough demeanor” to the offensive line.
The Raiders have carried a need at starting left guard since trading Kelechi Osemele to the New York Jets in March. Left tackle Kolton Miller, center Rodney Hudson, right guard Gabe Jackson and right tackle Trent Brown are entrenched at their respective positions on the starting offensive line.