The Minnesota Vikings might need to find a new starting left tackle.
As part of the deal in acquiring Yannick Ngakoue from the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings were reportedly able to get their new defensive end to agree to a new one-year deal worth $12 million.
Prior to trading for Ngakoue, the Vikings had just over $12 million in cap space. So acquiring the young pass rusher basically eliminated the majority of Minnesota’s current cap space.
Knowing that they are going to need some spending money during the regular season, the Vikings have been exploring ways to create more cap space and one method apparently involves the potential release of starting left tackle, Riley Reiff.
Riley Reiff could be done with the Minnesota Vikings
On Monday, The Athletic’s Chad Graff reported that Minnesota has approached Reiff about restructuring his current contract in order to lower his 2020 cap hit. Right now, the veteran left tackle has a cap hit for the upcoming season of $13.2 million.
In addition, ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio also reported on Monday that Reiff has been informing his Vikings teammates that he expects to be cut. So it sounds like the offensive lineman is not willing to take a pay cut this year and he’s preparing to find work elsewhere.
If Minnesota does end up releasing their starting left tackle, who will they choose to replace him? It seems a bit late in the offseason for them to bring in someone entirely new, so the Vikings will likely pick one of the following players to replace Reiff in 2020.
Minnesota’s starting right tackle for the majority of the last two seasons, many assumed O’Neill was drafted in 2018 with the intention of eventually becoming the team’s starting left tackle.
On Sunday, he was seen lining up at left tackle with the Vikings first-team offense during practice, so it seems like Minnesota might already be preparing for him to take Reiff’s spot.
Selected by the Vikings in the second round of this year’s NFL Draft, Cleveland spent most of his college career at Boise State lining up at left tackle. However, during Minnesota’s training camp this summer, the team has had him spending more time lining up as a guard.
Cleveland felt like an option at left tackle prior to this year’s camp, but that doesn’t appear to be in the Vikings’ plans anytime soon.
If Minnesota ends up deciding they actually don’t want to move O’Neill to the left side, Hill could be the guy they go with instead.
Since he was signed in 2016, he’s spent time on both sides of the line for the Vikings. Hill likely wouldn’t be a permanent replacement for Reiff, but he could at least be serviceable until Minnesota can find someone to be their long-term solution at left tackle.