After signing veteran guard Michael Schofield, rookie GM Ryan Poles was back at it, bringing in tackle Riley Reiff. The 11-year veteran agreed to a one-year deal that can be worth up to $12.5 million. Reiff brings elite discipline and veteran experience to the Bears’ offensive line. Poles might have taken things slowly, but he is solidifying his offensive line effectively in the final days of the offseason. If Schofield and Reiff pan out, Chicago’s offensive line will be well improved, ready to protect Justin Fields, and open lanes for David Montgomery.
At 6-foot-5 and 313 pounds, Reiff spent last season with the Bengals after a four-year stint with the Vikings and a full five-year rookie run in NFL hell with the Lions. He has 139 career starts, all consecutive, so he’s ready to compete. The competition was already stiff for second-year tackle Teven Jenkins, and even more so now. Jenkins, fellow second-year lineman Larry Borom and rookie Braxton Jones will compete with Reiff to solidify the tackle position. The signing comes as training camp is starting for veterans.
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Reiff is not quite as good at pass blocking as Schofield, but he’s nonetheless formidable. Pro Football Focus has Reiff tied at No. 35 overall in pass blocking. That’s a few spots behind Jason Peters, the former Bear’s tackle that locked in the left side for Fields last year.
Penalties also seem to be a thing of the past for Reiff. Once an area of struggle, the veteran tackle is coming off of back-to-back single-digit penalty seasons. Last year the Bears drew 34 of 106 penalties for false starts or offensive holding.
While with the Vikings, Reiff played in the Shanahan-inspired offense which should give him some familiarity with Luke Getsy’s scheme. Just like Schofield, Reiff’s presence will bring veteran leadership and proven talent to the line.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as the perfect signing this late into the offseason, and Reiff has a few holes in his game. A 58.4 pass-blocking grade ranked him 68 out of 106 tackles, below Borom and Peters even, the only two Bears PFF graded. Tackle is most heavily tested in pass rush, which could present some problems for Fields.
Another concern is the contract. Depending on the details and incentives, it feels like a desperate move. The rumor is that the contract is heavily incentivized – perhaps as much as $10 million of it – meaning Reiff graded poorly last year and possibly got a raise if more than $7.5 million is guaranteed. That could be embarrassing for Poles if Reiff underperforms this year. HIt will be interesting to see if there’s more to the deal than snap count deciding the payout.
GIVING US OPTIONS
I guess the most important thing with the Reiff signing is that Chicago has more options. Matt Eberflus and Getsy have more options thanks to better depth. As Eberflus said this summer, competition is good for all positions. Adding a new tackle into the mix this late into camp might be the push that Jenkins, Borom, and Jones need to improve their games. At the very least, it’s a one-year deal, which means Poles is not locked into an aging player for multiple seasons and dollars. That’s how things were done when Ryan Pace was here, but not anymore.