Pros Cons Detroit Lions sign offensive tackle Riley Reiff

Could a reunion be scheduled for Riley Reiff and the Detroit Lions?

The 33-year-old played his first five NFL seasons at Motor City, having been drafted by the Lions with the 23rd overall selection in the 2012 draft.

He had a solid tenure in Detroit, mostly adapting to left tackle. He was the Lions’ full-time starter in the position from 2013 to 2015, then slipped to right tackle for the 2016 campaign.

At the end of the 2016 season, he left Motown and signed a five-year, $58.75 million contract with Detroit’s NFC North rivals, the Minnesota Vikings.

He spent four years in Minnesota, before being released by the organization at the end of the 2020 season.

The Iowa product spent last season with the AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals, recording 12 starts at right tackle. He was unable to participate in the Bengals’ Super Bowl run, however, as he suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Cincinnati’s Week 14 overtime loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

Fast forward to now, and he’s one of the best remaining free agents this offseason.

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In reality, CBS Sports ranked the veteran offensive lineman as the 10th best free agent still available.

As the site writes,

“After spending four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, Reiff signed a one-year contract to join the Bengals last season. He started all 12 games for Cincinnati at the right tackle last season before being placed on the injured reserve in mid-December and missed the club’s run in Super Bowl LVI.According to Pro Football Focus, Reiff had a pass blocking efficiency rating of 96.8, allowing 21 total pressures and four sacks.

Specifically, he allowed four sacks and was called for just one penalty in 711 total snaps last season. Not too bad for an individual entering his 11th season in the league in 2022.

Now, maybe he’s no longer a high-end, entry-level lineman. However, I think you can never have too many linemen, especially considering all the time Frank Ragnow and Taylor Decker missed for the Lions a season ago. Ragnow and Decker each started in less than 10 games in 2021.

Reiff would be a terrific safety valve for Decker at left tackle and second-year pro Penei Sewell at right tackle.

Before the Lions strongly pursue Reiff, however, they should consider how much money he is looking for. He signed a one-year, $7.5 million contract last offseason with the Bengals.

Knowing that he would play the role of reserve with Detroit, one would have to believe that the general manager of the Lions, Brad Holmes, would want to bring this price closer to 5 million dollars. If Holmes was able to pull it off, I could see the franchise making a run at experienced offensive tackle.

Charles P. Patton