Updated with Lovie Smith comment at 3:20 p.m.
Richie Incognito, the offensive lineman who played a key role in the Miami Dolphins’ bullying scandal last fall, may be nearing a return to the NFL.
Incognito, who has been been unemployed since the scandal erupted, is visiting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday, Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer reports. It isn’t a slam dunk that the Bucs will sign him, but it’s the first step in his reinstatement. Incognito was named in an independent investigation by Ted Wells as the primary culprit in the bullying of Jonathan Martin.
Two weeks ago, Incognito told USA Today that he was eager to play football again and had “had some nibbles” from teams. “I’m not talking until I get picked up,” he added. “I’m standing pat on that.”
Coach Lovie Smith downplayed the meeting late Monday afternoon, telling reporters that “I think we’re jumping the gun a little. We look at everyone available. Nothing more than that.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently was asked about the rehabilitation of Incognito and John Jerry, who was also named in the investigation and has signed with the New York Giants. Among other things, players have had to undergo psychological evaluations.
“There are different issues with different individuals,” Goodell said before the Hall of Fame game (via NJ.com). “The bottom line is that everything is proceeding. They’re doing what they’ve been asked to do. We will make individual decisions, if necessary, with any one of those individuals.”
As for whether suspensions may be handed down, Goodell said:
“It’s a broad issue. I would say that the one person who has been very responsive in going through the program has been Richie Incognito. We’re working with his people and monitoring his progress on that front.”
Martin has moved on, signing with the San Francisco 49ers.
Incognito visiting Tampa. Lots of places there to have offensive line meetings.
— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) August 25, 2014