Riley Reiff – OT
Considering Riley Reiff went to the Cincinnati Bengals on a one-year, $7.5 million deal with $5.5 million guaranteed, this was an opportunity missed for the Carolina Panthers considering their gaping hole at left tackle. The former first-round pick played to a high standard for the Minnesota Vikings in 2020 before he was shown the door as part of cost-cutting measures, which was not a reflection of his production by any stretch.
Reiff formed a prolific bookend presence opposite Brian O’Neill for the Vikings, which was not matched by their interior protection that played a leading role behind their demise last season. The Iowa product gave up just one sack and conceded a solitary penalty from 1,003 snaps on his way to an eye-catching 71.3 grade from Pro Football Focus, which indicates the player still has plenty left in the tank.
The Panthers gave a significant amount of money to Cam Erving and Pat Elflein at the start of free agency – two players who have endured some real struggles over the last couple of seasons when presented with starting opportunities. Whether they’ll be anything more than depth pieces or not remains to be seen. But unless the duo makes a substantial turnaround, it appears as if the money might have been better spent elsewhere.
Acquiring Reiff would have been a shrewd bit of business for the Panthers in the short term. However, it might be a case of the team aiming to use one of their top-end selections on an elite tackle prospect such as Penei Sewell or Rashawn Slater.