By all accounts and appearances, the Dolphins must make a decision today regarding guard Richie Incognito. If they’ve made one, they’re not saying what it is.
During a Monday press conference following a thrilling win over the Patriots that gives Miami full control over their ability to qualify for the playoffs, coach Joe Phlbin declined to comment on Incognito’s status.
Incognito has been suspended for six weeks. For the first two weeks, he wasn’t paid. For the last four weeks, he has been paid.
Most believe that the Dolphins will pay Incognito for the final two games of the regular season but not bring him back to the team. Incognito, however, must agree to that approach. Incognito could choose to tell the Dolphins, “Bring me back or cut me loose,” which then would allow him to join another team.
Paid suspensions supposedly disappeared in 2006, thanks to a revised labor deal aimed at preventing teams from sending a player home with pay. Although Incognito has agreed to be suspended with pay, the Dolphins have been able to stash Incognito for two weeks longer than the maximum allowable team-imposed suspension. Now, by dangling another $470,000, they can keep him from joining another playoff contender for the homestretch.
While Incognito probably has concerns about forcing the issue given the NFL’s overriding ability to suspend him separately under the personal-conduct policy, at some point Incognito needs to take a stand. Whether with the Dolphins or another team, he has a chance to do something he has never before done in nine NFL seasons.
Play in a playoff game and chase an NFL championship.