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Dolphins are three days away from an Incognito decision

Buffalo Bills v Miami Dolphins

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 23: Richie Incognito #68 of the Miami Dolphins is introduced with the starting players prior to the game against the Buffalo Bills on December 23, 2012 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. The Dolphins defeated the Bills 24-10. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

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As the Dolphins prepare to face the Jets in New York, they’ve got a big decision looming when they return to South Florida.

Keep or cut Richie Incognito?

Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, a suspension for conduct detrimental to the team can last a maximum of four games. Game four comes Sunday. After that, the Dolphins must either reinstate or release Incognito.

At first, it seemed inevitable that Incognito would never play again for the Dolphins. Since then, however, a sense has surfaced that the Dolphins possibly would keep him for the rest of the season.

Last Sunday, Chris Mortensen of ESPN reported that owner Stephen Ross and coach Joe Philbin had met to discuss the situation. Ross, who has said he was appalled by the voice message Incognito left for tackle Jonathan Martin, presumably wants to see his team get to the playoffs. Keeping Incognito could aid that effort.

In turn, cutting Incognito could make it easier for another team competing with the Dolphins for the sixth seed in the AFC to secure the berth.

Then there’s the potential impact of cutting Incognito on a locker room that seems to want to keep Incognito on the team. If Incognito goes, there could be further dysfunction, making it even harder to continue the push toward an unlikely playoff berth.

Either way, Incognito’s days with the Dolphins likely are diminishing. His contract expires this year, and it’s unlikely that the General Manager who’ll be running the show in 2014 (likely not Jeff Ireland) will want to bring Incognito back.

Before that decision can be made, the Dolphins have to decide whether to welcome Incognito back for the final four games of the 2013 season.