The LA Chargers should show significant interest in left tackle Riley Reiff if he’s released by the Vikings.
*Editor’s note: Reiff agreed to restructure his contract with the Minnesota Vikings to stay in Minnesota.
The Minnesota Vikings find themselves in a contract standoff with left tackle Riley Reiff. Reportedly, Minnesota asked Reiff to restructure his contract. Should he decline the restructuring of his deal, he’d likely be released. Per Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk, Reiff has told his Vikings teammates that he expects to be cut for not taking the restructured deal. In the midst of all this, we have to think about the LA Chargers.
This would create a scramble for the left tackle unlike anything we’ve seen this late into the offseason. Reiff has been a solid starting-caliber left tackle for nearly a decade. Whichever team that gets him would improve drastically at the left tackle spot overnight.
Reiff isn’t a star, but he’s incredibly consistent. He’s a little bit better as a run blocker than a pass blocker. According to PFF, Reiff ranked 37th out of 82 offensive tackles. That’s about middle of the road. Last year he scored a 71.2 PFF grade, and he’s never dropped below 67 pass-blocking grade in his career.
The reason Reiff stares down the possibility of being cut is solely his contract. He’s good at what he does, but not a $13.2 million cap hit level of good.
There are teams that could use the left tackle’s services more than the LA Chargers. The Eagles, Bengals and the Washington Football Team are all a little more desperate at left tackle. Still, a one year deal with Reiff would be a vast improvement over what the Chargers have now.
Over the last three seasons, Sam Tevi has averaged a 56.2 PFF grade as a tackle. In that same period, Reiff averaged a 69.8 grade at left tackle.
Trey Pipkins may be the eventual starter one day. Storm Norton could also develop into something unexpectedly good, as he’s had a solid training camp by all accounts. Neither can seem to beat out Tevi though and as we’ve gone over, Reiff is significantly better than him even as just an average to decent tackle himself.
Any team negotiating with Reiff would also have leverage. There are just eight days until the NFL season kicks off. Perhaps if he had been released earlier in the offseason, Reiff would be able to court potential suitors in a way that favors him. Simply put, it would be very unusual for a tackle of his caliber to be available this late in the offseason.
The Chargers have the cap space to offer him a one-year deal worth between $7-10 million. Even after that contract, they would still have about $5 million left in cap space that they want to keep for 2020 in-season moves.
While I don’t expect the LA Chargers to make a play for Reiff given that they feel comfortable with their left tackle spot, it’s a situation they should take advantage of. Instead of throwing Tevi out there again when we know what the results are going to be, take a one year deal with a better-known commodity while the other offensive tackles develop.