The Patriots apparently haven’t signed Riley Reiff just to be tackle depth in training camp.
New details on the new Pats offensive tackle’s contract have come through, and they read like a guy New England truly does expect to start on offense somewhere.
Reiff is set to make $5 million on his one-year deal, which isn’t much on its own. But almost all of it ($1.45 million of base salary, $4.15 million total) is guaranteed in some fashion. That means cutting Reiff would cost $4.15 million in dead money and only save $850,000.
At minimum, the 11-year veteran will be on the 53-man roster barring injury, a trade or some kind of catastrophe that ends with him being released. Beyond that, it sure reads like Reiff stands a good chance of starting at one of the tackle spots for New England.
That could make things interesting for Trent Brown.
The big tackle had an okay season at left tackle last year all things considered, but it was certainly a step down from his play at right tackle in 2022 and featured a couple of brutal performances.
Right now, he’s still the best tackle on the team, so cutting him now wouldn’t make sense. He’s also still on a pretty reasonable contract with only about $3 million guaranteed. However, he has the third-highest cap number on the team this year ($12.250 million), and the Patriots could save $8 million by cutting him and $11 million by trading him.
Throw in the fact that Reiff and newly signed Calvin Anderson can play either tackle spot and that a highly drafted rookie might be arriving soon, and Brown is far from a guarantee to make the team this year depending on how the depth chart shakes out.
Again, there’s no reason New England has to cut Brown right now or at all. He’s still a decent player on a team-friendly contract, and the team reportedly is still confident in him – take from that what you will so far from the start of the 2023 season.
But Reiff’s addition, in particular, should light a fire under Brown to keep his spot, and a motivated Trent Brown still has the talent to be one of the best players at his position.