What are the Minnesota Vikings going to do with Riley Reiff?

(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Riley Reiff
(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Riley Reiff /

Will the Minnesota Vikings have a different starting left tackle in 2021?

Riley Reiff had an excellent performance this past season as the starting left tackle for the Minnesota Vikings. Despite this, Reiff may not return to the Vikings in 2021. If he does end up remaining with Minnesota, how much will it cost the team?

Next season, Reiff is currently scheduled to have a cap hit of $13.95 million. His dead cap if he is released, however, is only $2.2 million.

According to OverTheCap.com, the Vikings will be around $9 million over the salary cap if it drops to $176 million in 2021 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. There is also a chance the salary cap may not drop at all, though and that would obviously benefit Minnesota.

Will the Minnesota Vikings move on from Reiff?

Regardless of whether the salary cap drops or not in 2021, the Vikings could still decide to release Reiff and replace him with Ezra Cleveland as their starting left tackle. Cleveland spent most of his college career as a left tackle, but he only lined up as a right guard during the 2020 season. He played well though, despite it not being his natural position.

As good as Reiff was this year, Minnesota should still move on from the veteran left tackle before the start of the 2021 season.

Parting ways with Reiff, in addition to others, could help the Vikings create extra cap space to potentially sign a talented offensive guard this offseason like Joe Thuney or Brandon Scherff.

If Minnesota doesn’t believe they will be able to sign either Thuney or Scherff, then they should just try to restructure Reiff’s contract once again and keep Cleveland as their right guard. Bringing Reiff back at his current cap hit for 2021 still does not make much sense, given the Vikings’ expected cap situation.

Reiff played very well in 2017. He was okay in 2018 and 2019 and then this past season, he was able to get back to performing at a high level.

One thing is for certain, Minnesota will need better offensive guards in 2021. Dakota Dozier struggled mightily during the entire 2020 campaign and Dru Samia did as well until he got hurt and was replaced by Cleveland.

It would be tough saying goodbye to Reiff, but the Vikings having a line featuring Cleveland, Thuney or Scherff, Garrett Bradbury, and Brian O’Neill in 2021 would be very good.

Minnesota would still need another guard, but should be able to fill that void during the 2021 NFL Draft. Ohio State’s Wyatt Davis is a possibility or the Vikings can just wait and select a guard later in the draft.

It is pretty crazy that Minnesota might need to move on from the offensive lineman who arguably performed the best in 2020 in order to improve their position group. But again, that is how business works sometimes.

The Vikings offense was already very good in 2020. If the offensive line improves even just a little bit, it will really help Minnesota’s chances next season.