In the NFL, a roster is never finished. This offseason, the Raiders have continued tinkering with their player payroll. After adding several high-profile veteran NFL free agents early this spring and then welcoming a draft class that includes three first-round picks, Oakland general manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden are still busy.
This past week, in fact, the Raiders signed veteran guard Richie Incognito, who is expected to be the starter at left guard in 2019.
But the move to add Incognito is controversial. Though he’s been a four-time Pro Bowler, he also has a history of creating problems in the locker room and off the field.
And, the addition of Incognito isn’t the only addition for the Raiders this offseason that raised eyebrows around the NFL. Oakland also brought in veteran linebacker and ex-Cincinnati Bengal Vontaze Burfict, who’s gained a reputation around the NFL for dirty play, and wide receiver Antonio Brown, who forced a divorce from the Steelers after a rift with his quarterback and head coach.
This week, Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report singled out the Raiders’ signing of Incognito as the worst move by any NFL team since the draft. Knox called it "an unnecessary risk." He argues that adding Incognito to a mix that also includes Burfict and Brown as potentially dangerous for a team that’s trying to rebuild into a contender in 2019.
"While Oakland hasn’t shied away from signing older players since Jon Gurden’s arrival, this isn’t the type of move that looks to benefit a franchise building for the future," wrote Knox.
Other NFL observers agree. Said national radio personality Colin Cowherd: "You have a locker room now with Vontaze Burfict, Antonio Brown and Richie Incognito. What’s next? Are you going to sign Gary Busey as a punter?"
Jon Becker of the Bay Area News Group wrote the signing of Incognito says the Raiders are "inviting some nastiness" into the team and calls the Incognito-Burfict-Brown group "what some may call a trio of troublemakers in Oakland."
Mike Florio of Yahoo! Sports says the Raiders’ signing of Incognito rewards athletes for bad behavior. There’s enough evidence to believe he’ll likely revert to form again in Oakland.
Wrote Florio:"'You can’t have all Boy Scouts,' GM Mike Mayock said Tuesday in defending the move. But that’s a copout. Incognito, on the range of renegade players, resides at the polar opposite of 'Boy Scout.' He has proven time and again to have a short fuse, issues with impulse control and an inability to treat others with proper dignity and respect."