Riley Reiff was so close to earning his second $1 million bonus. The restructured contract he signed last September came with a major pay cut but two playing-time incentives: $1 million if he played at least 86 percent of the Vikings' snaps in 2020 and another million if he exceeded 93.75 percent of the snaps.
Heading into Week 17, Reiff's snap share was at 100 percent. The veteran left tackle hadn't missed a snap all year while putting together one of the better individual seasons of his career. Then he was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list and had to miss the regular season finale in Detroit. The Vikings ran 80 offensive plays in that game, and just like that, Reiff fell short of the second bonus, finishing with 92.6 percent of the snaps for the season.
Today, the Vikings made it up to Reiff by giving him that $1 million bonus anyways, according to Tom Pelissero. It was a tough break for Reiff to miss that final game, so the Wilfs made sure he got the money he would've earned easily had he stayed off the COVID list.
What does this mean for the Vikings? It means another $1 million is on their books for 2021, since Reiff's bonuses were deemed Not Likely To Be Earned and thus go on the cap for the following year. But that's a small price to pay for the value of being seen as an organization that takes care of its players. More importantly, a move like this suggests that the Vikings might be open to signing Reiff to an extension that would lower his cap hit in 2021 and give him some guaranteed money going forward.
Last September, it seemed like Reiff's time with the Vikings was ending. They needed cap space after trading for Yannick Ngakoue, and told Reiff he could either take a pay cut or be released. He reportedly said his goodbyes to his fellow offensive linemen, but ended up changing his mind and accepting the $5 million pay cut.
Reiff went on to have one of the best seasons of his career. In 15 games, he allowed career-lows in sacks (1), pressures (21), and penalties (1). Ngakoue, of course, was traded after just six games. This move to give Reiff his second bonus may serve to make up some of the goodwill lost in the Ngakoue ordeal, which could come in handy if the Vikings want to keep Reiff around.
If Reiff is going to remain in Minnesota in 2021, an extension seems like the only way that happens. He's due a $5 million roster bonus on March 19th and has a whopping $16.45 million cap hit next year, per Spotrac. The Vikings can't afford him at that price, and Reiff seems unlikely to accept another one-year pay cut. An extension would lower his 2021 cap hit and give him some guaranteed money in years to come. Reiff doesn't have any guaranteed money left on his dead and is scheduled to hit free agency in 2022.
By keeping Reiff at left tackle, the Vikings would only have one hole to fill on their offensive line. Ezra Cleveland would start at one of the guard spots, and Minnesota would just need to find a replacement for Dakota Dozier at the other. If Reiff were to be cut for cap reasons, they'd have two holes to fill on the O-line and the left tackle position would suddenly become a much bigger question mark.
If the Vikings feel good about keeping Cleveland at guard, a Reiff extension could make a lot of sense. He was very solid last year and at 32 years old, could have plenty of good football ahead of him.
Thanks for reading. Make sure to bookmark this site and check back daily for the latest Vikings news and analysis all offseason long. Also, follow me on Twitter and feel free to ask me any questions on there.