The Riley Reiff Cut Leaves the Vikings in a Tricky Spot
Another day, another wrong prediction. Look, we are claiming a partial victory in that Minnesota did actually try to restructure the deal, as we predicted they would. That being said, the Vikings were unable to put together a deal that made sense for both sides, so Riley Reiff has been cut. Where will the Vikings go from here?
Well, let’s begin with the obvious. The Vikings will be leaning on the tackle depth they’ve accumulated over these past few drafts. Brian O’Neill is a stud, and the Vikings shouldn’t be too quick to flip him from RT to LT. There’s no guarantee he will thrive on the left side, and having a legit right tackle is tremendously important. My very small football mind is taking the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach to RT.
At LT, the Vikings are likely leaning toward Ezra Cleveland, with Oli Udoh filling the Rashod Hill role as an upside swing tackle. Having these three young, promising players raises Minnesota’s floor.
Having a stable floor, though, is obviously not the same thing as having a high ceiling. Indeed, Minnesota may still find themselves with some uninspiring play along the offensive line if they don’t figure things out. Improving at guard is an obvious priority, but Rick Spielman will be looking for another player to compete at tackle. At this stage, the only question rests in how he will acquire this player.
Free agency is fast approaching, and the Vikings may opt to snag a reasonably-priced vet. Overall, the free agent tackle group — at least according to Zim’s fav website — doesn’t have a ton of depth. We likely won’t be able to get one of the handful of big name players. Bringing Hill back may make some sense.
In the draft, Minnesota will have some interesting choices to make. Penei Sewell is the dream, but it’s unlikely he gets past the Bengals. Can you imagine a Sewell-O’Neill tandem, though? It’s a world I want to live in. Christian Darrisaw (my other personal favorite), Rashawn Slater, and Alijah Vera-Tucker are all possibilities at 14 (or later, if Rick continues with his trading ways). Of course, Minnesota may continue their trend of taking upside tackles in the second round. Pursuing this avenue presents some risks, though.
Ultimately, the Vikings have made the decision that was likely necessary. The decision to cut Riley Reiff gives the Vikings a considerable amount of extra cap space. Yesterday, the Vikings were $2.5 million over the cap. Today, the Vikings have nearly $9 million in available money (shout out to Over the Cap). Once they get that Harrison Smith extension figured out (any day now, Rick), Minnesota will have even more room to operate.
The key really rests in how they use this newfound wealth. Merely signing a player for a similar number to Reiff who offers similar on-field production makes very little sense. For this reason, I’d expect Minnesota to focus this money on solidifying other positions on the roster. Give Cleveland the chance to play his natural position, and don’t be shy about snagging a stud o-lineman high in the draft.