Risks and Rewards of Moving Riley Reiff

Let's take a look at the team's options, and what I believe to be the best route.

The off-season is in full swing, and that means Vikings general manager Rick Spielman is making plans for the 2020 Vikings. One of the biggest talking points has been the left side of the offensive line, and specifically, whether or not Spielman should move veteran left tackle Riley Reiff to guard. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of making that move, and ultimately decide if that would be a good move or not.

For those who aren’t very familiar with Minnesota’s starting left tackle, here’s some quick background information. Reiff was a first round pick back in 2012, and he spent five years with the Detroit Lions before being brought to the Vikings in March of 2017.

Reiff has been a good left tackle for Minnesota. He was most definitely an upgrade from the likes of T.J. Clemmings, Matt Khalil, and Jeremiah Sirles. The trouble is, he is indeed a very average tackle. Spielman can be applauded for making an upgrade at the position, but it came at a price. Currently, Reiff is scheduled to make over $13 million in 2020, and many fans believe the Vikings should be getting a top-notch tackle at that price. With that quandary and a small budget, these are the routes Slick Rick could choose to go:

  • Cut Reiff, save $8.6 million, lose $4.4 million in dead cap
  • Trade Reiff (likely difficult to find a suitor)
  • Move Reiff to left guard in hopes he plays better there
  • Convince Reiff to restructure his deal as either a tackle or guard

Fans and analysts alike are torn over the option of moving Reiff to guard. There is sound reasoning to move him to guard, but there are also obvious reasons not to. Check out a breakdown below:

Potential PROS of moving Reiff to guard

  • Makes former left guard Pat Elflein more expendable, as Elflein could be cut to open up some cap space
  • Gives Reiff an opportunity to try and potentially thrive at a new (likely easier) position late in his career
  • Gives current right tackle Brian O’Neill and opportunity to switch to left tackle
  • Keeps Reiff on the team, no dead cap from a cut

Potential CONS of moving Reiff to guard

  • Previous attempts at moving tackles to guard have failed (Mike Remmers)
  • Reiff’s current deal is more appropriately priced for tackle, and it would make him one of the most expensive guards
  • Reiff is a veteran and it is very late in his career to learn a new position
  • Reiff is a good left tackle, and there is no guarantee Spielman could upgrade that position in the draft or free agency
  • A move could disturb continuity on the line and create a bigger learning curve during the offseason

With the pros and cons in mind, I see two obvious and much safer options than an attempted move to guard. It would make the most sense to keep Reiff at tackle and be satisfied with his average play, or cut him and gamble on drafting the left tackle of the future. Free agency doesn’t even seem to be on the table given Minnesota’s deplorable cap situation.

To me, the draft makes the most sense. It’s risky, but using a high pick on a left tackle at least gives the Vikings an opportunity to improve at the position, or find the same level of talent for less money, while it also saves some cap space for spending elsewhere. Given his pretty solid drafting resume, I trust Spielman to go and get the right athlete to bookend the offensive line. 

There’s a chance Spielman may feel the need to wheel and deal to move up in the first round, but that also might not be the case. Remember, he was able to nab Brian O’Neill in the second round, and O’Neill has truly been a savior for the opposite side of the line. Only time will tell, but I hope the Vikings take their shot at another exciting young tackle.

You can follow Reid Johnson on Twitter, Instagram, or subscribe for free to his personal Vikings blog, Purple Reign News for more Vikings content.

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  1. Hi Reid. I fully understand the issues with the Viking’s current Offensive LIne! Riley Reiff is a Highly Pay-be! Moving him from OT to Guard is very risky at BEST! What are your thoughts of giving Aviante Collins from TCU?? I understand he is very strong, quick and hungry with skills at OT, Guard on left and right sides! Thanks, Earl

  2. Hello Earl, glad you like my piece! I am very intrigued by Aviante Collins, but he’s had a couple injuries that haven’t allowed us to get much of a sample size. I would also wonder how Oli Udoh and Dru Samia will or won’t factors this year. It will be telling as to the development of players in the Dennison system vs. Sparano’s.

  3. Cut him save money draft two offensive linemen and maybe look for a bargain in free agency like with Josh Kline last year

  4. I think we try to restructure him. This saves money, maybe 2-3 million and allows us to draft CB/FS/DL first round. If he declines the offer then we cut him and use his money to retain Alexander.

  5. Can we trade him to Washington for Trent Williams & a pick? Then PAY Williams , who has allready blocked for Cousins once before.