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Vikings could release starting left tackle with connections to the Eagles [UPDATE]

Andre Dillard replacement?

NFL: OCT 07 Vikings at Eagles Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

UPDATE: Sounds like Riley Reiff won’t be available after all. There goes that.

ORIGINAL STORY BELOW.


The Philadelphia Eagles should probably just pay Jason Peters to play left tackle for them but they might soon have another alternative coming down the pipeline.

Minnesota Vikings starting left tackle Riley Reiff has told his teammates he expects to be released, according to a report from Pro Football Talk.

Reiff was reportedly given until Tuesday to decide to accept a restructured deal. The Vikings are looking to clear cap space after acquiring premier pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue from the Jacksonville Jaguars over the weekend. With Reiff potentially rebuffing the Vikings’ request, the team can release him to clear $11 million.

Of course, it’s pretty unusual to see a team willing to cut their primary blindside protector with less than two weeks until Week 1. But the Vikings are apparently comfortable with the progress second-year player Oli Udoh has made in order to move Brian O’Neill from right tackle to the left side.

It’s not like Reiff is some truly amazing talent; Pro Football Focus had him graded 26th out of 61 offensive tackles that played at least 50% of their team’s snaps in 2019. But a team could clearly do worse.

And that brings us back to the Eagles, who are most certainly doing worse at left tackle starting now. With Andre Dillard out for the season, the team is lining up Matt Pryor at left tackle in practice and he’s getting whooped out there. Jordan Mailata might be worth a look instead but the guy who’s never played in a real NFL game and has been dominated by Joe Ostman in practice might not be the best bet to protect Carson Wentz. Rookie Jack Driscoll has only really been working on the right side; he hasn’t played left tackle since being a true freshman at UMass in 2016. Fellow rookie Prince Tega Wanogho didn’t even get mentioned by Doug Pederson as a potential Dillard replacement.

Again, the Eagles could merely pay Peters more to move back to left tackle. But maybe they want to keep him at right guard and bring in the younger and more durable Reiff instead. Reiff has made 117 starts and only missed eight games in eight total seasons played.

It’s not the craziest thought considering Reiff has some connections to the Eagles’ current coaching staff and front office. The Detroit Lions selected Reiff with the No. 23 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft when Jim Schwartz was still head coach there. Reiff logged 55 starts in 63 games played under former Lions offensive line coach and current Eagles director of player personnel/senior defensive assistant Jeremiah Washburn.

It remains to be seen what it would cost to sign Reiff, who currently checks in with the 15th highest annual value at left tackle. It’s not like the NFL is exactly loaded with offensive tackle talent so there could be a competitive market to sign him. And while the Eagles do have about $23.5 million in cap space to work with right now, they’re counting on carrying most of that over to next year since they’re currently projected to be $51.3 million OVER the cap in 2021.

Then again, it’s not like signing Reiff would be a luxury purchase. Really poor left tackle play could sink the Eagles’ 2020 season and get Wentz seriously hurt. The Birds might just have to bite the bullet.

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