Ex-Vikings Starter, $66 Million Lineman Signs With Bears: Report

Riley Reiff, Khalil Mack

Getty Khalil Mack #52 of the Chicago Bears rushes against Riley Reiff #71 of the Cincinnati Bengals at Soldier Field on September 19, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Bengals 20-17. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Across the NFC North, the Chicago Bears made their biggest free-agent acquisition of the offseason in former Minnesota Vikings left tackle Riley Reiff.

Reiff, 33, who played for the Vikings from 2017 to 2020 and was a foundational piece of establishing a culture on the offensive line, signed a one-year deal with the Bears on July 26, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported.

“Former Bengals’ OT Riley Reiff reached agreement today on a one-year deal worth up to $12.5 million, with $10 million likely to be earned, with the Chicago Bears, per source,” Schefter tweeted.

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Reiff started 12 games for the Cincinnati Bengals last season before landing on the injured reserve list before the Bengals’ playoff run to the Super Bowl. He figures to be a significant boost to Chicago’s offensive line that was ranked as the second-worst unit in the league by Pro Football Focus (PFF) entering the 2022 season.

Reiff will have a reunion with the Vikings slated for Week 5 at U.S. Bank Stadium and a potential primetime season finale at Soldier Field in Week 18.

‘Well-Respected Reiff’

After playing five seasons for the Detroit Lions as the No. 23 overall pick in 2012, Reiff signed a five-year, $58.8 million deal with the Vikings and became a staple of stability and toughness for an offensive line that saw its starting tackles of Matt Kalil and Andre Smith depart for free agency.

“When (Reiff) first came here, he changed the culture of the offensive line room…it really started with him when he first got here,” Adam Thielen said in 2020.

Reiff played in 15 games during the 2017, 2019 and 2020 seasons and started 13 contests in 2018. He also started in four playoff games with the Vikings.

In 2020, the veteran left tackle put forth one of the best performances of his career, allowing just one sack on 567 pass-blocking snaps and played in 15 games this season — missing only an irrelevant season finale against the Lions due to COVID-19 protocol.

Vikings team reporter Eric Smith wrote that “Reiff was one of the most well-respected players in the Vikings locker room and was a mentor for younger linemen.”

“Riley hits the weight room hard every day,” Ezra Cleveland, who was a rookie in 2020, said in December. “He shows up and works and puts his heart and soul into his work. It’s just a great thing to see [from] a guy in his ninth year.

“He’s been [in the NFL] so long and he still shows up to work and works his hardest and doesn’t whine or cry or anything. He just puts his nose down and goes to work,” Cleveland added. “That’s one thing I really try to model my game after – I try to stay quiet and do the work. It’s just cool to see a vet doing that as well.”

Reiff’s consistency has helped him garner a with the Bears that’s could land him his largest single-year earnings of his career. Reiff has earned $66.6 million in his 10 NFL seasons so far, according to Over The Cap.

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Fallout With Reiff

Reiff took a $5 million pay cut before the start of the 2020 season to help the Vikings sign Yannick Ngakoue.

Minnesota built performance-based incentives in his contract restructuring that allowed him to earn a $1 million bonus for playing in 86% of the team’s offensive snaps and another $1 million for reaching 93.75% of snaps.

But due to Reiff missing the season finale against the Lions due to placement on the COVID-19 list, Reiff narrowly missed the second incentive escalator in his contract.

The Vikings renegotiated his contract at the end of the season and gave Reiff an extra $1 million as a nice gesture, per Tom Pelissero. The bonus was made in good faith, but it could also be seen as a sweetener for potential negotiations this offseason.

However, Reiff was released in March 2021 after his agent and the Vikings couldn’t reach an agreement on restructuring his contract again in 2021 with a deflated salary cap due to the pandemic, per Pioneer Press reporter Chris Tomasson.

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