The Minnesota Vikings found a new starting tackle in free agency after losing their own, Matt Kalil, and seeing former Cincinnati Bengals tackle Andrew Whitworth sign with the Los Angeles Rams.
The terms of the Whitworth and Kalil deals were hammered out before the signing period officially opened, and the fact that the Vikings came to terms with former Detroit Lions offensive tackle Riley Reiff so quickly indicates those terms were all but done during the negotiating period, too.
Reiff was the second-ranked tackle among Scout.com’s free-agent rankings, with a combination of age, effectiveness and availability among the contributing factors to that grade. He played almost 900 snaps while missing two games in 2016.
Rieff finished anywhere between 29th and 48th among the offensive tackles in Pro Football Focus’ grading system each of the last four years, but given the Vikings’ struggles at the position and the lean free-agent and draft market this year, it was one of the potential signings that made sense.
The Vikings were also believed to have significant interest in former Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Ricky Wagner, who graded out higher than Reiff in last year’s analysis by PFF (84.5 vs. 67.5) and also had some potential to make the move from right tackle to left tackle, just like Reiff. Wagner played some left tackle at Wisconsin, but Reiff had played left tackle for four years with the Detroit Lions before moving to right tackle in 2016 after the Lions drafted Taylor Decker.
But, while Kalil signed a five-year deal for $55.5 million, he received a PFF grade of only 36.9 in the two games he played before a hip injury ended his season against the Green Bay Packers in Week 2.
Another possibility on the free-agent market was Russell Okung, who signed a four-year, $53 million deal with the Los Angeles Chargers. He got a 73.5 grade from PFF in 2016, in between those of Reiff and Wagner, but he was given much stronger marks for his run blocking than his pass blocking. Reiff graded out higher as a pass blocker than run blocker, as did Wagner, who had an 84.5 grade.
The top free-agent tackle, according to Scout.com, was Whitworth, who signed a three-year, $36 million with the Los Angeles Rams. He got the highest grade, 91.3, among all free-agent tackles and the second-highest grade among all tackles from PFF. The drawback with him, however, is that he is 35 years old.
Wagner and Kalil are 27 years old. Reiff is 28 and Okung is 29.
Perhaps it is simplest to just understand that the Vikings got one of the top five offensive tackles available in free agency, with each of them bringing their own strengths and drawbacks and are visiting with another top-10 tackle on the market, Mike Remmers, on Friday.
Reiff represented a free-agent play they seemingly needed to make as the top positional priority for the offseason and likely the biggest free-agent signing they will make this offseason. From there, they can fill in with decent mid-level competition for starting spots at other positions – like a second tackle, right guard, running back and outside linebacker – doing that with a mixture of free agency of the draft.
Here are some of the contributing factors in grading the offensive tackles:
|SCOUT OT RANK||FORMER TEAM||HT||WT||AGE||PFF GRADE||2016 SNAPS||2016 GMS/STARTS|