The Vikings' decision on the future of Riley Reiff — and its subsequent ramifications for Ezra Cleveland — is one of the more interesting and important stories of their offseason.
Now, it sounds like we know which way they're leaning. According to Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press, the Vikings are "hoping" to restructure Reiff's contract and keep him in Minnesota. However, it's still possible that Reiff will end up being released if the two sides can't work out a deal.
In this case, a "restructured" deal would mean a short-term extension for Reiff. He's only under contract for one more season, with a $15 million cap hit in 2021 that includes a $5 million roster bonus if he's still on the team on March 19th. The salary cap-strapped Vikings can't afford that cap hit, so they'll likely try to add another year or two onto Reiff's contract and lower his 2021 number.
The benefit of keeping Reiff is that it would mean the Vikings only have one hole to fill on their offensive line. Cleveland would fill one of the guard spots, and Rick Spielman and company would just have to find a replacement for Dakota Dozier via free agency or the draft. Cleveland needs to add some strength to hold up better in pass protection, but he showed off flashes of immense upside at guard during his rookie season.
The news that the Vikings want to keep Reiff isn't particularly surprising. He had one of the best seasons of his career in 2020, allowing just 21 pressures and one sack and only committing a single penalty in 15 games. The Vikings pulled a classy move by awarding him a $1 million bonus for a playing time incentive that he barely missed due to being on the COVID-19 list during Week 17, which was another indication that they value Reiff. His steadiness and veteran presence on an otherwise young offensive line shouldn't be overlooked, either.
There's no guarantee that Reiff will be back in purple in 2021. It's possible that the two sides won't be able to agree on a deal and he'll be released, which would clear up cap space but throw a wrench in Minnesota's plans. As Tomasson mentioned, that would mean either Cleveland or O'Neill would become the Vikings' left tackle, and further reshuffling would happen from there.
If possible, the Vikings would like to avoid that scenario and keep Reiff on the left side of their line for the near future.
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