Anyone who follows the Minnesota Vikings knows that the offensive line is a position group that has to be addressed this off-season. The interior offensive line, in particular, needs some serious attention.
If this report from Star Trib beat reporter Andrew Krammer is accurate, they may be trying to move another tackle inside to guard, in consecutive seasons:
One thing the coaching staff will consider this spring is moving left tackle Riley Reiff to a different spot, possibly to guard, according to a source familiar with the team’s thinking. Time will tell as the Vikings take an open approach to repairing the offensive line through free agency in March and the NFL Draft in April.
For one, this isn’t set in stone, like the Mike Remmers move appeared to be from the outset. That’s good! I find it borderline amazing that the Vikings paid top dollar for Remmers and Riley Reiff in free agency two years ago to play tackle, and now they’re contemplating having both of them move inside in consecutive seasons. Remmers and Reiff are two different players, and much like your kids, you should never compare them when they’re in the same situation, but the Remmers move was a complete failure. Had it not been for the unexpected emergence of Brian O’Neill, it would have gone from failure to unmitigated disaster. Still, our old friend Arif Hasan has a couple thoughts on this development. They’re encouraging and worth a quick read:
He's a better candidate to switch inside than Remmers ever was because of how Remmers timed his punches. It worked with Mike Harris— Arif Hasan (@ArifHasanNFL) February 5, 2019
This may mean they like the tackles in this draft more, though the tackles in this draft probably switch to guard better than Reiff does https://t.co/pqnIxWMp4g
I know a lot of folks aren’t really keen on Reiff, but I thought he played really well in 2017 until he got hurt in the second half of the season, and was okay last year. Not great, but just okay. He’s a guy I actually think can be a building block at LT for this o-line fix going forward, so a move inside would be a strange one for me. In 2019, Reiff is due to make $11.7 million, with a dead cap hit of $6.6 million, so I’d be surprised if Reiff ends up getting released, not with that much dead money. But it’s not surprising to another good friend of DN, Andy Carlson, who has an interesting theory about this:
Vikings: Hey move to guard.— Andy (@AndyCarlsonShow) February 5, 2019
Reiff: You're not going to pay me $11.7M to play guard.
Vikings: Okay fine. Restructure.
Reiff: No. I have $6.6M dead. Pay me or cut me so I can double dip.
Vikings: ......okay fine.
Secondly, I don’t know that this portends to Nick Easton’s health either way. In 2016, the Vikings o-line rebuild was largely contingent on C John Sullivan and RT Phil Loadholt returning from injuries. When that didn’t happen things fell apart, and injuries mounted at an almost historic level. This could be a possible insurance move that signals Easton, who is recovering from a herniated disc in his neck, won’t be ready in time for training camp. Since the article didn’t specify left or right guard, it could also mean the end of the road for Remmers and/or Tom Compton in a Vikings uniform. Or it could mean nothing other than someone thinking out loud, and the Vikings are just looking for ways to get me so mad about moving another tackle to guard I actually write something.
Finally, the Vikes could maybe get a better player in the draft or free agency, but right now, today, there isn’t a better LT on the roster than Reiff. Before they contemplate moving another T to G, I’d have an answer at LT first, because if they don’t they just made two spots worse. So, what’s the answer? Do you want to draft a guy and plug him into the LT spot? Move O’Neill to LT and backfill RT, which I think would be idiotic right now? Is Easton healthy?
The Vikings o-line has been need of fixing for going on five years now, and the only time they seemed to get it right was two years ago when they signed Reiff, Remmers, and drafted Elflein. Now, it seems like the Vikings are moving to un-do two thirds of that fix, with evidence to show it didn’t work the first time.
Let’s see how it all shakes out.