Trade Reiff to a tackle-needy team
…and start rookie Ezra Cleveland out of the gate.
This approach would inevitably put a lot of faith and trust in a rookie left tackle. But Cleveland might just prove adequate for the gig.
Teams like the Cleveland Browns, New York Jets, and the Washington Football Team are either deficient at the left tackle spot or they are grooming youngsters. In the situation where the trade partner has a rookie left tackle waiting in the wings, Riley Reiff could serve as a patch-over type player.
The Vikings are in a comparable position as they will likely utilize Reiff until Cleveland is ready. If Cleveland is indeed ready this year, Reiff becomes more expendable.
Currently, Minnesota has over 12 offensive linemen under contract for the 2020 season. Reiff, himself, earns about 50 percent of all the Vikings cash spent on offensive linemen. It’s disproportionate, to say the least.
What’s more, Reiff is the 14th highest-paid left tackle in the NFL in terms of annual average salary–and he probably isn’t the 14th-best left tackle in the business. Even more amusing is that Reiff is the second-highest-paid player on Minnesota’s current roster next to Kirk Cousins.
The bulk of Reiff’s guaranteed money has been paid out. In theory, if the Vikings looked to shop him, it would not be a colossal risk for the trade recipient to undertake.
Reiff has a cap hit of $13.2 million in 2020, and $4.4 million of that turns into dead cap if he is traded or released this year. Should Minnesota find a trade partner, the team should free up around $11 million in cap space.
One can expect Jadeveon Clowney would take a large chunk of that new cap space if the Vikings are interested in him.