Eagles Dodge Major Bullet After ‘Average’ Vikings LT Takes Pay Cut

Riley Reiff

Getty Vikings left tackle Riley Reiff has made a decision whether to take a pay cut or be released.

The Eagles’ new ongoing saga at the left tackle position has a new chapter. His name is Riley Reiff.

Reiff, a first-round pick (23rd overall) in 2012, has reportedly been asked to take a pay cut in Minnesota as they look to shed salary-cap space for Yannick Ngakoue. The situation is getting dire, too, after Reiff started telling teammates that he believes the Vikings may flat-out release him as soon as Sept. 1.

The 31-year-old is due a base salary of $10.9 million this season and has a non-guaranteed salary of $11.65 million next year, per Yahoo! Sports. The Vikings would clear roughly $8.7 million in cap space if they do release him.

UPDATE: The Vikings and Reiff agreed on a restructured contract for the starting left tackle, per ESPN. He was slated for a cap hit of $13.2 million in 2020, making his hit the seventh highest in the NFL at the left tackle position.

The rumor mill is unsurprisingly ripe with visions of the Eagles swooping in. Jason Peters has reportedly demanded a pay raise to move to left tackle following Andre Dillard’s season-ending injury. Philadelphia has been playing hardball with the future Hall of Famer, unwilling to budge from the one-year deal he signed in July (worth up to $6 million and $3 million guaranteed, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter).

How much more does he want? If it’s anything less than the $10.9 million that Reiff is owed, they should probably just pay Peters. Maybe they could lace a restructured contract with performance-based incentives to keep Peters happy. He’s worth it.

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Vikings Coach Says Reiff Not ‘True Left Tackle’

Let’s be honest. Peters is a much better option at left tackle than Reiff. It’s not even close. According to Pro Football Focus, the 31-year-old ranked 38th (in 2019), 23rd (in 2018), and 26th (in 2017) among qualifying left tackles. Not great, bordering on average. He has been extremely durable, though. Reiff has started 112 out of a possible 120 games in stints with Minnesota and Detroit.

Former Vikings coach Mike Tice indicated that he doesn’t believe Reiff is a true left tackle, suggesting that the Iowa product move inside to one of the guard spots or any other position besides center.

“The Vikings don’t have a left tackle,” Tice told Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. “[Riley] Reiff did an admirable job at left tackle last year but that’s not what he is. He’d be better served for him and his career moving forward if he played any other offensive line position but center.”

Reiff started his career in Detroit as a blocking tight end and fullback for the Lions before eventually transitioning to left tackle. Sound familiar? It should. Peters made the same exact switch during his rookie year in Buffalo, only he did it as an undrafted free agent. Seventeen seasons later, Peters is on track for a bust in Canton.

Eagles Linked to Reiff Back in 2012

There was speculation the Eagles might make a move for Reiff back in 2012 after Peters ruptured his Achilles tendon (twice) prior to training camp.

Philadelphia owned the 15th overall pick in that draft and Reiff was considered the best tackle not named Matt Kalil. But, then-coach Chip Kelly decided to trade up to No. 12 and take Fletcher Cox (at least Chipper got that one right). The Eagles started King Dunlap at left tackle that year and Reiff ended up going at No. 23 to Detroit.

Bleacher Report was all-in on the Eagles taking Reiff before the draft, though. They thought it was between him and Jonathan Martin for the Eagles in the first round. Obviously, it didn’t play out that way. Here is what the website wrote at the time:

The Eagles would likely need to give up their 15th overall pick and a second-round pick to trade up to the 10th overall pick. But it may be well worth it. Reiff is an impressive athlete, as he was a once a tight end and was converted to a lineman. He has very quick feet and a wide frame. He also is great in pass protection.

The downside for Reiff is that he has very short arms. But so does Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas, and Reiff makes up for this with his quick feet and agility. An athlete such as Reiff is exactly the kind of tackle Howard Mudd needs on the O-line to block for Michael Vick.

Cox was the right pick but funny how old takes never get forgotten. In the case of Peters versus Reiff, there is no debate. Pay Peters.

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