The Minnesota Vikings should look into signing Richie Incognito
To help in protecting their franchise quarterback, the Minnesota Vikings should consider signing guard Richie Incognito before the start of the 2018 season.
The Minnesota Vikings are expected to be title contenders heading into the 2018 season. How can they not be?
Not only are the majority of the defensive starters returning, but the Vikings also went out and added sixth-year man Sheldon Richardson at the three technique spot.
On offense, Minnesota upgraded at quarterback with Kirk Cousins and although they lost a valuable piece in Jerrick McKinnon, they will have the return of the explosive Dalvin Cook to look forward to next season.
Let us also not forget the added treasure of the Vikings having the best receiving duo in the NFL in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs.
And yet, if there is a cause for concern of a possible dent altering Minnesota’s contending plans, it’s the offensive line. Especially at the guard position following the retirement of Joe Berger this year.
The Vikings had an opportunity to address this void during last month’s NFL Draft, but ultimately elected to take cornerback Mike Hughes and project tackle Brian O’Neill with their first two picks instead.
Now with news that the Buffalo Bills have released Richie Incognito from the reserve/retired list thus making him a free-agent, Minnesota has been presented with the opportunity to add a four-time Pro Bowler who finished as the 12th-best guard in 2017 according to Pro Football Focus.
While Incognito has primarily played at left guard for his career, he did play two seasons on the right side back in his days with the Rams.
Regardless of whether he can play right guard now and fill in for Berger or if he’s better suited to stay on the left, signing Incognito at least gives the Vikings more options at figuring out the best offensive line combination for next season.
Of course there is the matter of character concerns as Incognito is infamously known for the bullying scandal towards former teammate Jonathan Martin with the Miami Dolphins.
If Richie was to remain unhinged, still being the same person that the bully reports dictated, then this wouldn’t be a topic of discussion. However, something to consider is that he has seemingly turned a corner for the better with unwavering support from his former teammates while in Buffalo.
This is the complete opposite effect of say a Riley Cooper in Philadelphia who, outside of Chip Kelly and Michael Vick, received little to no support after his incident in 2013 and showed minimal talent to warrant a roster spot, let alone playing time.
The fact is, Incognito by all accounts has conducted himself in a much more professional manner and is still a damn good player who could provide a huge upgrade to Minnesota’s offensive line. This is also assuming he’s capable of fitting into the zone blocking scheme of course.
If the Vikings stand pat and go into the 2018 season with the offensive line as is, it may not necessarily be the end of the world. The presumable starting five would be Riley Rieff, Nick Easton, Pat Elflein, Mike Remmers and Rashod Hill. It may potentially work out.
However, if one of those players go down with an injury, Minnesota is potentially looking at a glimpse of 2016 all over again due to lack of depth where their quarterback has no protection and the offense is constantly having to grind for every yard and score.
A team can have the sexiest defense of all-time, but if they can’t protect their quarterback and the defense has to come back onto the field just as quickly as they left (2016 Vikings, 2017 Seahawks, 2017 Broncos, etc), then a disservice is being done to the entire team.
After Minnesota signed their next franchise quarterback to an $84 million, fully guaranteed contract, it’s probably a good idea to provide as much protection up front for him as possible.
The draft has come and gone, now the Vikings have another opportunity to improve the pass protection for Cousins as well as provide a little more insurance for their franchise running back who is coming coming off a torn ACL.
According to Over the Cap, Minnesota still has over $15 million in cap space. Ideally, some of that should go towards a contract extension for Stefon Diggs before the season starts. But still, the Vikings can find a way to sign Incognito too if they so choose.
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Minnesota should offer up a competitive one-year deal to Incognito to fill one of the last remaining needs for this team’s chances at hoisting the Lombardi trophy after beating New England in next year’s Super Bowl, with a final score of let’s say, 23-6.