The NFL free agent market is not expected to be flush with starting-caliber offensive tackles. Especially ones who can function at least adequately at either left or right tackle. Which is why Riley Reiff is positioned to cash in this offseason.
Former Giant lineman and current SB Nation contributor Geoff Schwartz recently told the Detroit Free Press that “Someone’s going to pay Riley. I don’t know if the Lions are going to pay him or not. Someone’s going to pay him.”
Should the New York Giants be a team willing to write a big check for Reiff?
A five-year NFL veteran, Reiff was a full-time starter at left tackle for the Detroit Lions for three seasons. He was moved to right tackle in 2016 to make room for first-round pick Taylor Decker, who had an excellent rookie season at left tackle for Detroit.
Reiff, a 2012 first-round pick by the Lions, isn’t a great player. He has never made a Pro Bowl. He was moved from his position for a rookie. SB Nation’s Pride of Detroit derisively says “ ... although 2016 was an inconsistent year by most standards, for him it was better than what the Lions were used to getting out of the 2012 first-round pick. ... That Riley Reiff is one of the best free agents on the market says a lot.”
Thing is, inconsistent or not Reiff is probably an upgrade from either Ereck Flowers at left tackle or Bobby Hart at right tackle.
Pro Football Focus is not the be-all, end-all guide to judging players. PFF grades, though, provides a tool we can use for comparison.
Playing right tackle in 2016, Reiff ended up with a PFF grade of 67.5, 48th out of 78 qualifying tackles. Hart, starter in 13 games for the Giants, was 67th with a grade of 41.0.
Playing left tackle, Reiff had grades of 75.2 (2012), 70.5 (2013), 75.3 (2014) and 77.5 (2015). Flowers’ grades were 32.5 in 2015 and 48.4 last season.
So, yes, Reiff would appear to be an upgrade over what the Giants have. He would bring experience and toughness to the line. Is he enough of an upgrade to justify a contract in the neighborhood of $6-8 million annually? Mitchell Schwartz, the top right tackle on the market a year ago, signed a five-year, $33 million deal with the Kansas City Chiefs. That’s an average of $6.6 million annually. It figures to be a good baseline for the kind of deal Reiff could expect.
If you were making the decisions for the Giants, would you pay Reiff that kind of money?