Riley Reiff Signs with NFC North Foe

Parkston, SD, native Riley Reiff. © USA Today via Imagn Content Services, LLC.

Riley Reiff departed the Minnesota Vikings after the 2020 season, landing with the Cincinnati Bengals, a team that reached the Super Bowl in 2021. Unfortunately for Reiff, injuries muddied his 2021 campaign, and he didn’t play in the championship versus the Los Angeles Rams.

Now, Reiff will return to the NFC North, reportedly signing with the Chicago Bears on Tuesday.

Vikings fans will undoubtedly be a little miffed to see Reiff joining the Bears, as Chicago is considered the franchise’s secondary rival behind the Green Bay Packers. But so goes the business.

The wild part, though, about the Reiff-to-Bears deal is the money. Reiff earned $2 million in his final season with the Vikings and around $7 million last year. A spike to $10 million — especially in the middle of the summer with the free-agent market dried up — is a real head-scratcher.

For Reiff, however, well — good for him. At times, he was a lone bright spot on Minnesota’s offensive line as the Mike Zimmer brand of Vikings notoriously failed to shore up the offensive trenches. Reiff was dependable at offensive tackle, while others, particularly the guards, were not.

He’s a steady lineman, balancing run-blocking and pass-protection responsibilities throughout his career. In most seasons on his resume, he ends up with a Pro Football Focus score in the 70s range, which will be welcome news for the Bears, who were forecasted to have a nauseating offensive line before the Reiff acquisition. In fact, back in June, PFF called Chicago’s offensive line the second-worst in the NFL heading into 2022. The Vikings ranked 19th on the same list.

Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Riley Reiff. © Sam Greene via Imagn Content Services, LLC.

Reiff has played for the Lions, Vikings, Bengals, and Bears in his 10-year career. He was a 1st-Round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, granting him instant name recognition around the league. Reiff was selected by Detroit six picks before the Vikings landed Harrison Smith 10 years ago.

The South Dakota native may start right away in 2022, too. Before Tuesday, a 5th-Round rookie named Braxton Jones from Southern Utah was scheduled to start at left tackle. Reiff in the mix may alter the depth chart.

Reiff will turn 34 in December.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

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