ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Buffalo Bills are prepared to give Richie Incognito a second chance after the offensive guard’s career was derailed by the Miami Dolphins’ bullying scandal in 2013.
In a two-sentence release Saturday night, the Bills said they reached an agreement in principle to sign Incognito. He was a free agent and had been out of football since being suspended and missing the final eight games of the 2013 season.
The discipline came after an NFL investigation determined Incognito and two other Dolphins offensive linemen engaged in persistent harassment of teammate Jonathan Martin, who left the team. Martin spent last season with San Francisco.
Incognito has nine seasons of NFL experience, and briefly played for the Bills in 2009.
The Bills have a need at guard, after they went through numerous starters last season.
And he joins a team in transition under new coach Rex Ryan, who was hired last month after Doug Marrone opted out of his contract.
Ryan, coincidentally, used the word “bully” in vowing he wanted to build a tough team, during his introductory news conference in Buffalo.
“We are not going to be pushed around. We’re going to be the bullies,” Ryan had said, adding, “We’re going to build a bully and we’re going to see if you’re going to play us for 60 minutes.”
Incognito had established a reputation for having a mean streak even before the bullying scandal. Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus once called Incognito “the dirtiest player in the NFL,” following a game against Buffalo’s AFC East rival Dolphins.
Several teams had entertained the prospect of signing Incognito last season before turning elsewhere.
That included the Buccaneers in August, when coach Lovie Smith confirmed he planned to meet with Incognito to determine if the player was a good fit for Tampa Bay.
“If you know my history, I do believe in second chances,” Smith had said. “To me, nobody should have a death sentence.”
The Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts also were mentioned as having interest in Incognito.
A year ago, Incognito received unspecified treatment in the aftermath of the scandal.
In March, after his contract expired, Incognito posted messages on his Twitter account saying he was looking forward to “getting back to work ASAP.”
Incognito was selected by St. Louis in the third round of the 2005 draft. He failed to sign a contract with the Rams until Week 3 of his rookie season, and then missed the rest of the year after being placed on the team’s non-football injury list.
He spent the next three-plus seasons in St. Louis before wearing out his welcome. The Rams placed him on waivers and he was claimed by Buffalo. He played three games with the Bills, but was not re-signed. Overall, he has appeared in 102 games.
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