The Minnesota Vikings have released offensive tackle Riley Reiff, saving the team $13.7 million in salary cap room.
Reiff signed with the Vikings prior to the 2017 season and enjoyed the best season of his career in 2020. The 32-year-old allowed a career-low 21 pressures according to Pro Football Focus and was a bright spot along the offensive line.
Despite his performance, Reiff's contract was an issue. With the Vikings $5.3 million over the salary cap, Reiff's cap hit of $17.5 million (per Spotrac) became unmanageable.
With Reiff's release, the Vikings are roughly $8.5 million under the salary cap but will need $10.2 million to sign their upcoming draft class per Over The Cap.
The question becomes what the Vikings will do at left tackle. The Vikings drafted Ezra Cleveland in the second round of last year's draft, but he spent his entire rookie season at right guard. Cleveland could return to his natural position to fill the void at left tackle, but it's unclear what the team has in mind.
The Vikings could also turn to a pair of in-house candidates. Brian O'Neill moved to left tackle during a pair of practices last September as Reiff debated taking a $5 million pay cut to stay on the team. Reiff accepted the restructured deal and O'Neill stayed on the right side in 2020.
Oli Udoh is another option, but the sixth-round pick from the 2019 NFL Draft has played 34 snaps over his first two seasons.
With the free-agent market for tackles thinned out after Taylor Moton and Cam Robinson received the franchise tag on Tuesday, the Vikings' best option may be in the draft.
Virginia Tech's Christian Darrisaw and Northwestern's Rashawn Slater are two of the top options in this year's class and are have the athletic traits to play in the Vikings' zone-blocking scheme.
Whatever the Vikings plans are, they now have another hole they need to fill this offseason. With limited cap space and the 14th overall selection in the draft, the Vikings may need to get creative to protect Kirk Cousins' blind side.