Riley Reiff

Patriots Place T Riley Reiff On IR

Riley Reiff made it through last season unscathed, but the veteran tackle will spend time on IR for the second time in three years. The Patriots shifted Reiff to IR on Monday and promoted tight end Pharaoh Brown from the practice squad.

The 12th-year blocker suffered a right leg injury in the Pats’ preseason finale. Although Reiff’s timetable is not known,’s Ian Rapoport notes the issue is not believed to be one that will end the veteran’s season. Still, this stands to affect the Patriots’ offensive line configuration to start the season.

Both tackle spots loomed as concerns for the Patriots this offseason, with perennial injury risk Trent Brown having missed time earlier this year. New England had also experienced issues at guard, with Michael Onwenu coming off the active/PUP list in late August. Cole Strange has also missed notable preseason time. Reiff now must miss at least four games. He will factor into the Pats’ IR-return mix; teams have eight such activations available in-season.

Reiff has only played tackle in games as a pro, but the former first-round pick was working at guard — a position he slid to at points in practice for the then-guard-limited Pats — when the injury occurred, Doug Kyed of the Boston Herald notes. Reiff signed a one-year, $5MM deal in March, coming over after spending 2022 in Chicago. A Bears backup to start last season, Reiff eventually replaced Larry Borom in the 3-14 team’s lineup and started 10 games.

The well-traveled blocker has not run into substantial injury problems over the course of his career, only missing more than four games in a season once. That came in 2021, when an ankle injury sidelined him for the Bengals’ final five games. Working as Cincinnati’s starting right tackle that year, Reiff did not return for the team’s Super Bowl LVI run. Reiff, 34, will begin this season having started 149 career games.

This development creates uncertainty for the Pats, who were connected to a bigger investment at the position than the ones they eventually made. Rumored to be eyeing one of the top right tackles, the Pats instead added Reiff and ex-Broncos swing tackle Calvin Anderson. The team has rookie Sidy Sow as an option, and Kyed notes Onwenu moving back to tackle — a position he played earlier in his career with the Patriots — could be an emergency avenue. That would create a right guard vacancy.

New England also has Tyrone Wheatley Jr. and recent trade acquisition Vederian Lowe on its 53-man roster. Wheatley has yet to suit up for an NFL game; Lowe played in four as a Vikings backup last season. Sow arrived this year as a fourth-round pick out of Eastern Michigan. Anderson is the most experienced Patriots backup tackle. The Broncos’ tackle issues led to Anderson starting a career-high seven games last season. He has made 12 career starts but spent much of training camp on the active/non-football illness list.

Browns Acquire Pierre Strong From Patriots

The Browns and Patriots have swung a trade that will allow both clubs to reinforce position groups that feature injury concerns. As Ian Rapoport of reports, Cleveland is acquiring running back Pierre Strong and is sending offensive tackle Tyrone Wheatley Jr.  to New England.

Strong was selected by the Pats in the fourth round of the 2022 draft, and he earned just 10 carries in his rookie season. Thanks largely to a 44-yard scamper in a Week 13 victory over the Cardinals, Strong turned those carries into 100 rushing yards, and he added seven catches for 42 yards.

However, as Mike Giardi of the Boston Sports Journal notes, Strong has generally failed to impress the Patriots’ coaching staff, which was evidenced by the fact that the club was actively seeking a veteran complement to RB1 Rhamondre Stevenson this summer. Of course, New England ultimately signed longtime Cowboys standout Ezekiel Elliott, which made Strong expendable.

The Browns, meanwhile, allowed Kareem Hunt and D’Ernest Johnson to depart in free agency, as they were comfortable with their own second-year back, Jerome Ford, serving as the primary backup to four-time Pro Bowler Nick Chubb. Unfortunately, Ford is dealing with a hamstring ailment that has jeopardized his Week 1 availability, and even if Ford were healthy, Cleveland could stand to supplement an RB room that includes unproven or uninspiring options like Demetric Felton, Jordan Wilkins, and Hassan Hall. As Tony Grossi of posits, Wilkins’ two fumbles in the Browns’ preseason loss to the Chiefs yesterday likely cost him his roster spot.

What Cleveland lacked in RB depth, it made up for in OT talent. With Jedrick Wills, Jack Conklin, James Hudson III, and fourth-round rookie Dawand Jones in the fold, Wheatley — who spent most of the 2022 campaign on the Browns’ taxi squad — was unlikely to have a place on the 53-man roster. He did, however, play well in an extended look during this year’s preseason slate, and though he has yet to see any regular season work in the NFL, he is an ascending player that can serve as needed depth in Foxborough.

As Mike Reiss of writes, presumptive right tackle Riley Reiff left New England’s preseason loss to the Titans on Friday with a right leg injury that could linger into the regular season, and swing tackle Calvin Anderson is presently on the NFI list. Anderson is reportedly close to a return to the active roster, though there is still plenty of room for a tackle with Wheatley’s upside.

Patriots Notes: Judon, Gesicki, Cunningham, Flowers

We’ve got more details on Matthew Judon‘s reworked deal with the Patriots, per ESPN’s Field Yates (on Twitter). The pass rusher’s revamped contract includes “more 2023 guarantees and upside” for one of New England’s top defenders.

Specifically, Judon got a $7MM signing bonus while seeing his 2023 base salary drop from $11MM to $7MM. His 2023 incentives increased from $500K to $3MM while his $1MM in per-game bonuses stay the same. That all results in a cap hit of $16.44MM.

More simply, Judon got an effective $3MM raise in his 2023 base pay (which is reflected in the $7MM signing bonus, not the base salary) and a $2.5MM raise via incentives, per Ben Volin of the Boston Globe (on Twitter).

As we noted earlier this month, Judon had some of his 2024 money pushed up to 2023, setting the stage for more drama next offseason. In a telling sign, Volin points out that the last time the Patriots accommodated this type of cap machination was in 2020 with Stephon Gilmore. New England ended up trading the star cornerback the following year.

More notes out of New England…

  • One of the Patriots’ biggest offseason acquisitions suffered an injury during practice this week. Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter), Mike Gesicki suffered a “mild dislocated shoulder.” Despite the injury, Rapoport notes that there’s hope the tight end will be active for Week 1. Following a five-year stint with the Dolphins to begin his career, Gesicki inked a one-year deal worth up to $9MM with New England this offseason. The veteran is expected to often play alongside fellow TE Hunter Henry in the Patriots’ offense this season.
  • Veteran offensive lineman Riley Reiff signed with the Patriots this offseason, and while he’s destined for a role in the starting lineup, it remains to be seen exactly where he slots in. As Doug Kyed of the Boston Herald writes, Reiff has played both right guard and right tackle during camp. The 34-year-old’s role probably won’t be solidified until we get clarity on some of the Patriots’ other linemen, including Michael Onwenu (PUP), Calvin Anderson (NFI), Kody Russey (injured) and Cole Strange (injured).
  • Undrafted rookie QB Malik Cunningham impressed during training camp and the Patriots’ first preseason game, and Volin writes that the organization has no choice but to roster the Louisville product as a third QB behind Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe. As Volin notes, the Patriots signed Cunningham with the hope that he could be “another Julian Edelman” and transform from college quarterback to NFL wideout. Cunningham mostly worked with receivers in the spring, but Volin observes that the rookie has taken more and more reps under center and has clearly supplanted Trace McSorley as the organization’s third QB.
  • Trey Flowerssecond stint in New England will see him playing on a $1.165MM salary ($50K guaranteed), per Yates (on Twitter). The veteran defensive end can earn another $510K in per-game bonuses, plus a potential $825K in not-likely-to-be-earned incentives. This leads to a max value of $2.5MM, and Flowers will be attached to a $1.285MM cap hit.

Latest On Patriots’ Tackle Situation

Not re-signing Isaiah Wynn, the Patriots have some questions at their tackle posts. New England might boast some depth, should everyone stay healthy here, though the soundness of its strategy at this position can be debated.

Trent Brown is back in place as the Pats’ left tackle, but the ninth-year veteran struggled with fitness during minicamp. Weight clauses exist in Brown’s Patriots contract, just as they did when the team reacquired him from the Raiders and reworked his deal. Brown’s weight at various offseason points will trigger the bonuses. Given his minicamp form, it is worth wondering how many of those benchmarks the talented blocker will hit this year.

The team was connected to making a more concerted effort to upgrade at right tackle, but Riley Reiff is in place on a one-year, $5MM deal. The 34-year-old tackle signed for $4.15MM guaranteed and, as of now, is positioned to re-emerge as a Week 1 starter. The Bears stationed Reiff as a backup to open last season, but he closed the year as the 3-14 team’s right tackle starter. Reiff, however, took left tackle reps during the Patriots’ offseason program, per the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin.

Reiff has extensive experience on both sides, having been drafted in the 2012 first round by the Lions to play left tackle. He worked as Detroit’s full-time left-sider for three seasons and Minnesota’s for four. The Bengals used Reiff as their starting right tackle for much of their 2021 AFC championship season, but an injury ended his run before the playoffs. Reiff has made 149 career starts. Although Reiff’s profile did not present the intrigue Mike McGlinchey, Jawaan Taylor or Kaleb McGary‘s did at free agency’s outset, the Patriots passed on a big-ticket signing or a high draft choice for this role.

Reiff seeing left tackle time could point to Brown’s roster spot being uncertain. When healthy, Brown has played well during his two New England stints. He played 17 games last season but missed eight in 2021, which followed an absence-riddled Raiders tenure. Brown’s cap number ($12.25MM) sits third on this year’s Pats roster. The team would save $8MM by releasing the 6-foot-8 cog, who is going into his age-30 season.

Brown reporting to training camp in shape and staying healthy would be the best O-line outcome for the Patriots, but Reiff’s experience does provide some insurance. That said, questions also surround Reiff given his age. Reiff spent time with the backups during minicamp and has not started and finished a season as a first-stringer since 2020.

During the offseason program, the Patriots used ex-Broncos swing tackle Calvin Anderson on the left side and ex-Jet Conor McDermott on the right. Fourth-round pick Sidy Sow, who has impressed the team during his initial NFL offseason, is being viewed as a right tackle, Volin adds. Sow is attempting to convert from college guard to NFL tackle. Anderson and McDermott each have 12 career starts; the latter started six games for the Patriots last season, after being signed off the Jets’ practice squad.

Although the Pats boast an interesting five-man contingent at this position, its ceiling largely hinges on Brown’s status. Training camp figures to be important at this spot, with the team likely set on its interior O-line.

Do Patriots Need To Pursue An Upgrade At Tackle?

As second-stint Patriots OC Bill O’Brien installs his offense, the team has seen improved form — in June, that is — from Mac Jones. Following a strange season that featured a career defensive coach given the play-calling reins on offense, New England looks to be in better shape on the whole on that side of the ball.

The team also has a strong interior offensive line contingent, being set to use the Cole StrangeDavid AndrewsMichael Onwenu trio it played inside last season. But New England may have an issue at tackle. Trent Brown missed the start of the team’s minicamp this week and could not finish practice Tuesday, per NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran, who notes the mammoth left tackle needed to be relocated to a side field for conditioning work.

Brown signed a two-year, $13MM deal to stay with the Patriots in 2022 and was moved to the left side — where he played in 2018 to set up a monster Raiders payday — last summer. But the veteran blocker has struggled to stay on the field for many years. Brown did play all 17 games last season but missed eight in 2021, 11 in 2020, five in 2019 and six in 2017.

The Patriots have included weight bonuses in Brown’s latest contract. They indicate a preference against Brown playing above 365 pounds, with the bonuses — totaling $750K — rewarding the 6-foot-8 tackle for moving down below that weight over the offseason. Brown carries the Pats’ third-highest cap figure this year ($12.25MM), though only $3MM is guaranteed ahead of Week 1. The former 49ers draft pick worked out on his own this offseason, skipping OTAs. Releasing Brown would create $8MM in cap space for the Pats, though that might be premature given his talent when available.

New England was linked to potentially diving into the robust right tackle market in March. But the top options (Mike McGlinchey, Jawaan Taylor, Kaleb McGary) landed elsewhere. It is not exactly uncharacteristic — 2021 notwithstanding — for the Patriots to stand down in free agency, but their O-line does not include a player earning more than $6.5MM on average. Rather than move into the deep waters at right tackle, the Pats added 12th-year veteran Riley Reiff on a one-year, $5MM deal. That contract features more guaranteed money ($4.15MM) than the Pats gave Brown on his two-year pact, but Reiff entered last season as a Bears backup and missed the second half of the 2021 campaign due to injury.

Reiff did emerge as the Bears’ right tackle starter midway through the season, and Pro Football Focus tabbed him as a middle-of-the-road starter (51st, eight spots behind Brown). But he will turn 35 later this year and, per’s Karen Guregian, spent time with the backups during minicamp. The team added ex-Broncos swing tackle Calvin Anderson and re-signed Conor McDermott, whom it initially plucked off the Jets’ practice squad last season. Fourth-round pick Sidy Sow, a six-year Eastern Michigan cog, is also converting from guard to tackle ahead of his rookie year.

Regarding free agents, three-year Jets starter George Fant (60 career starts) may be the best available. Multi-stint Patriot Marcus Cannon is also unattached, but the Pats look to have their swing spots covered. The Titans released former Pro Bowler Taylor Lewan in February, but knee trouble is threatening to cut the former first-rounder’s career short.

The Bengals’ deep right tackle competition, which is pitting Jonah Williams against La’el Collins and Jackson Carman, is worth monitoring for every team with a shaky tackle situation. Collins’ status, in particular, will be notable once he recovers from the ACL tear he sustained in December. The rebuilding Cardinals now have a healthy D.J. Humphries and a re-signed Kelvin Beachum joining first-rounder Paris Johnson and primary Humphries 2022 fill-in Josh Jones.

New England has a recent history obtaining a starting tackle via offseason trade, nabbing Brown from San Francisco in April 2018 and then reacquiring him in March 2021. Brown’s performance — during his age-25 season — helped the Patriots to their sixth Super Bowl win and earned him a then-tackle-record deal in 2019. Isaiah Wynn, who succeeded Brown in 2019, did not pan out as a Patriot, despite effective stretches, and signed with the Dolphins this offseason.

The Pats passed on the opportunity to draft Broderick Jones in Round 1 this year, trading out of No. 14 to give the Steelers that opening, indicating relative confidence their tackle plan will hold up. But Brown’s health and fitness level again looms as crucial to a team attempting to develop a first-round quarterback. After the Matt PatriciaJoe Judge experiment led to a Jones step back last year, the team is exiting minicamp with a potentially glaring issue on its offensive front.

AFC East Notes: Ramsey, Patriots, Hardman

A year after acquiring Tyreek Hill and Bradley Chubb via trade, the Dolphins added another standout in Jalen Ramsey. Miami became a destination for Ramsey, whom Albert Breer of notes had zeroed in on landing with the AFC East club. Sean McVay met with Ramsey in January and informed him the Rams would explore trade options, mentioning the team would explore a deal as a way to restock its draft capital and reduce costs. Rams GM Les Snead called teams two weeks before the Combine to gauge interest, and after Dolphins GM Chris Grier confirmed his team might be, Vic Fangio provided a positive opinion of Ramsey’s place in his defense.

After Ramsey’s agent informed him about a Miami deal, the All-Pro cornerback instructed his representative to make sure he ended up there. The Rams may not have traded Ramsey to the Dolphins just because he wanted to be there, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic tweets, but they did want him out of the NFC. Snead’s price point was initially too high for the Dolphins, per Breer, but the sides settled on a package of a third-round pick and tight end Hunter Long. A far cry from what the Rams sent the Jaguars for Ramsey in 2019 — two first-round picks and a fourth — but the Dolphins now have the eighth-year veteran on the roster and have since adjusted his contract.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • The Patriots discussed DeAndre Hopkins with the Cardinals early this offseason, per The Athletic’s Jeff Howe, but they backed off due to Arizona’s ask (subscription required). The Cardinals are rumored to be seeking a second-round pick and change here. The NFC West team is not expected to land that, as Howe adds other teams believe the Cards want to dump Hopkins’ salary ($19.45MM in 2023). The Bills and Chiefs are now the closest links to the former All-Pro wideout.
  • Mecole Hardman committed to the Jets after Aaron Rodgers indicated he wanted to be traded to New York, but the ex-Chiefs wideout said (via ESPN’s Rich Cimini) the four-time MVP’s intentions did not affect his decision. While it would seem that would have at least moved the needle a bit — compared to a world in which Zach Wilson was on track for a third QB1 Jets season, at least — Hardman said he was excited to play with Garrett Wilson and Allen Lazard. Hardman added (via the New York Post’s Brian Costello) the Jets showed interest throughout his free agency, which ended with a one-year deal worth up to $6.5MM. Hardman did not elaborate on a Chiefs offer to bring him back, but he seemed to confirm the defending champions’ previously reported plan to move on.
  • A faction of the Patriots‘ locker room voiced support for Bailey Zappe during last season’s brief QB controversy, Devin McCourty confirmed during a WEEI interview (via ESPN’s Mike Reiss). “It was just a back and forth, which to me, spoke more about what we had on offense than the quarterback,” McCourty said. “We never were solidified as an offensive group that guys had full confidence in anything we were doing. There was never true hope.” The Pats, who regressed on offense in 2022, have since rehired Bill O’Brien as OC. While Mac Jones won his job back amid a dysfunctional season, the Pats will give Zappe a chance to push him this year.
  • The incentives in Mike Gesicki‘s one-year, $4.5MM Patriots contract include $300K bumps starting at the 40-reception mark, Doug Kyed of tweets. Gesicki could collect $1.2MM if he reaches 70 catches in 2023. There are also up to $1.2MM in available yardage incentives, with that escalator package starting at 450 yards and ending at 750. Playing-time incentives are also included in the package.
  • Up to $4MM in incentives are present in Riley Reiff‘s one-year, $5MM deal. He will earn $800K by playing 53% of the Pats’ offensive snaps, per Kyed (on Twitter). These figures decrease the higher the snap rate goes, but Reiff can earn all $4.5MM by reaching an 80% snap rate.

Bears Pursued Mike McGlinchey; Latest On Cody Whitehair, Teven Jenkins

Even after acquiring D.J. Moore, the Bears entered free agency with the NFL’s most cap space. But they stood down when it came to the top offensive linemen available.

Jawaan Taylor, Mike McGlinchey and Orlando Brown Jr. each signed for at least $16MM per year last week. The Bears could have obviously competed with the Chiefs, Broncos and Bengals for these blockers, but Ryan Poles‘ club did not. The team did try to land McGlinchey, however, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, with The Athletic’s Kevin Fishbain confirming it was in on the new Broncos right tackle (subscription required).

As expected, McGlinchey landed a deal on Day 1 of the legal tampering period. The Broncos convinced the five-year 49ers right tackle to sign a five-year deal worth $87.5MM deal (fourth among right tackles), but McGlinchey did well to essentially secure three guaranteed years. His 2025 salary becomes fully guaranteed shortly after the 2024 league year begins, virtually locking in $52.5MM at signing. The Bears were not willing to go there, and the Broncos came from a place of desperation considering their track record at right tackle. Barring injury, McGlinchey will be Denver’s 11th Week 1 right tackle starter in 11 seasons.

Chicago pivoted from Larry Borom to Riley Reiff last season, but Reiff has since joined the Patriots on a one-year, $5MM deal. Reiff’s Pats pact includes $4.15MM guaranteed, per’s Doug Kyed (on Twitter). The deal includes up to $4MM in play-time incentives, Kyed adds. Borom would again be projected to start at right tackle, but the Bears will be connected to right-side options in the first round, The Athletic’s Adam Jahns adds.

This year’s draft includes top-10 tackle options Peter Skoronski, from nearby Northwestern, and Paris Johnson (Ohio State). The Bears have not drafted a tackle in Round 1 since Gabe Carimi in 2011, but Poles was with the Chiefs when they used the No. 1 overall pick on Eric Fisher two years later. With right tackle looking like the weak spot for Chicago up front, the team could use its No. 9 overall pick on one or trade down (again) to nab one of the other three first-round tackle prospects (Georgia’s Broderick Jones, Tennessee’s Darnell Wright, Oklahoma’s Anton Harrison). Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest mock sends Johnson to Chicago.

On the interior, the Bears may be prepared to move Cody Whitehair to solve the guard logjam they created by Nate Davis‘ three-year, $30MM deal. Poles said Whitehair will be an option to move back to center, citing the seven-year veteran’s nearly 4,000 snaps at the position. Whitehair played center primarily to start his career, working as Chicago’s snapper over his first three seasons before moving to guard in 2019 to accommodate a James Daniels position switch.

Whitehair shifting to center would allow the Bears to have he, Davis and Teven Jenkins as interior starters. While Davis played right guard with the Titans, the Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs predicts Jenkins will stay at that position after showing considerable promise in 2022. Pro Football Focus rated Jenkins, whom the Bears tried at both tackle spots and dangled in trades last year, as the league’s No. 3 overall guard.

Patriots Expected To Sign T Riley Reiff

Riley Reiff will be heading to a fourth team in four seasons. The veteran tackle is expected to sign with the Patriots, Dianna Russini of tweets.

The 11-year veteran has been with the Vikings, Bengals and Bears since 2020. He will join a Patriots team that has already agreed to terms with ex-Broncos spot starter/swingman Calvin Anderson. Reiff spent last season as Bears part-time starter; the Patriots may give him a chance to earn the right tackle gig opposite Trent Brown.

Connected to a pursuit of a right tackle on this year’s market, the Pats stood down and let the likes of Mike McGlinchey (Broncos), Jawaan Taylor (Chiefs) and Kaleb McGary (Falcons) agree to terms elsewhere. Reiff and Anderson would not exactly present a desired right tackle competition, at least not at this point in Reiff’s career, and the Patriots do not have an expensive contract elsewhere on their front. For now, however, Reiff is the most proven option for the team on the right side.

Reiff’s experience aside, he turned 34 in December and did not begin last season as a starter for a 3-14 Bears team. The NFC North nomad did, however, move into Chicago’s starting lineup. The ex-Lions first-rounder made 10 starts for the Bears last season, supplanting Larry Borom in the rebuilding team’s lineup. Pro Football Focus ranked Borom and Reiff as its Nos. 50 and 51 tackles last season. Reiff (149 career starts) bounced back from an injury-abbreviated Bengals season, playing 16 Bears games in 2022.

The Pats are satisfied with their interior O-line trio (David Andrews, Cole Strange, Michael Onwenu) and may be leaning toward bringing Brown back at left tackle. They benched former blindsider-turned-right tackle Isaiah Wynn last season, before an injury knocked the ex-first-rounder out for the year. Wynn is almost certain to depart. Reiff and Anderson, a former Pats UDFA, as of now represent his successor options.

Bears Searching For O-Line Help?

The Bears’ offensive line has generated a number of questions this offseason, and resolutions have not come just yet. Buzz around the NFL connects the team to pursuing outside help in trades, Adam Jahns of The Athletic writes (subscription required).

An effort to obtaining guard help, in particular, has circulated, per Jahns, even though Teven Jenkins may be moving close to becoming the starter at right guard. The former second-round pick has gone from tackle to trade rumors to guard this offseason, but Jeremy Fowler of notes the Bears have been pleased by the second-year blocker’s transition thus far (Twitter link). The team also signed veteran Michael Schofield, who could be a backup at multiple spots given his tackle past, just before training camp.

Chicago also added Riley Reiff at the start of camp, but Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune notes the veteran has ceded the first-string right tackle spot to Larry Borom — an eight-game 2021 starter. The latter, a 2021 fifth-round pick, has worked opposite fifth-round rookie Braxton Jones in recent days. Despite being a rookie out of Division I-FCS Southern Utah, Jones is being given “every opportunity” to win Chicago’s blindside job, though Biggs wonders if the two young blockers are competing against one another for a spot opposite Reiff.

Reiff, 33, counts just $3MM against Chicago’s cap, but that amount is fully guaranteed. No guarantees are present in Schofield’s veteran-minimum deal. Reiff has started 139 career games, working mostly as a left tackle. Although, he did slide to the right side to accommodate Taylor Decker in 2016 and play RT in Cincinnati last season.

The two other veterans in this mix — Cody Whitehair and Lucas Patrick — are not vying for roles. Whitehair is locked in as Chicago’s left guard, and Patrick — one of a few ex-Packers OC Luke Getsy brought with him this offseason — is in place at center. Patrick, however, is still recovering from thumb surgery. He is not a lock to be ready by Week 1, with Biggs adding the Bears expect him back sometime in September. Patrick being sidelined into the regular season could intensify Chicago’s interest in adding interior help.

Holding the No. 7 waiver priority spot, the Bears will be in a good position to land O-linemen Wednesday — after teams’ rosters are trimmed from 80 to 53 — but new GM Ryan Poles looks to be seeing what it will take to add a veteran upgrade ahead of that point.

Latest On Bears’ Offensive Line

Previously a possibility at left tackle, Riley Reiff now looks to be settling in on the right side. The Bears moved the longtime NFC North left tackle-turned-Bengals RT off the blind side recently, with Courtney Cronin of noting rookie Braxton Jones has taken most of the left-side reps over the past several days.

Reiff, 33, played right tackle with the Bengals last season, prior to going down with a mid-December ankle injury that shelved him for the team’s unlikely Super Bowl run, and moved to the right side in 2016 to accommodate Lions first-round pick Taylor Decker. In every other season, Reiff has primarily been a left tackle.

Jones and Reiff starting would leave Chicago with two new tackle starters. The team’s top 2021 left tackle, Jason Peters, remains a free agent. The player the previous regime hoped would commandeer that post, Teven Jenkins, has not done so. The 2021 second-round pick has battled injuries throughout his career. While Jenkins has returned to practice, he has lined up with the Bears’ second- and third-string lines since doing so, Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic tweets.

As Jones began to show starter readiness during the Bears’ offseason program, Jenkins has already popped up in trade rumors. The Bears chose Jones 168th overall out of Division I-FCS Southern Utah. This would obviously be a big jump from his 2021 gig.

Larry Borom worked as Chicago’s primary right tackle last year, but the 2021 fifth-round pick is playing behind Reiff presently. Pro Football Focus graded Borom outside its top 60 tackles last season. Although O-line development usually takes some time, the Bears’ new coaching staff may be prepared to let the Mizzou product learn from the bench behind Reiff (139 career starts). Borom has been working at both tackle spots, suggesting a potential path as the team’s swing backup.

The team exited the 2020 season with one of the league’s most stable tackle tandems, with Charles Leno and Bobby Massie having started together for five years. The Bears, however, released Leno and did not re-sign Massie during the 2021 offseason. Leno is now with Washington, tied to an extension signed earlier this year, while Chicago searches for long-term replacements. The Bears are not expected to contend this season, but Justin Fields preparing for his first full campaign as the team’s starting quarterback certainly makes tackle performance important through a longer-term lens.

Additionally, late-July pickup Michael Schofield is ticketed to be the team’s top right guard, Cronin adds. Mainstay Cody Whitehair remains the Bears’ other guard starter, while ex-Packer Lucas Patrick is poised to be the Bears’ new center. A former Super Bowl starter at right tackle with the Broncos, Schofield has been a serviceable guard in the years since. The Chargers used him as a guard starter in 49 games over the past five years.