EAGAN, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings tackle Riley Reiff took a $5 million pay cut before this season and might need to take another one to stick around in 2021. But he declined Friday to speculate much on his future.
“I take it hour by hour, but I love it here,” he said on a conference call. “The Vikings have been great to me. I’m happy to be here.”
Reiff is on the books to have a salary-cap number of $13.95 million in 2021, the final year of his restructured five-year contract. He had a cap number of $13.2 million for 2020 until he agreed in early September to have his base salary cut from $10.9 million to $5.9 million, dropping his cap number to $8.2 million.
Had Reiff not agreed to the cut, he would have been released. He did not participate in several practices in late August and early September while pondering whether he would remain with the Vikings.
“It is what it is,” said Reiff, who spoke to the media for the first time since Aug. 10. “That’s what happened, and I’m glad to be back here. I’m happy to be here and ready to move forward and keep on playing for the Vikings.”
Reiff was asked why he decided to remain with the Vikings.
“My teammates, coaches,” he said. “I love playing here in Minnesota. Midwest, tough. I like (the NFC North). I’m grateful to be here.”
Safety Harrison Smith remains grateful that Reiff returned. Both are team captains.
“Riley is one of those guys you want to go into games with,” Smith said. “Just that presence and his knowledge of the game and what he’s done, and then what he did to come back to the team, that just shows how much he wanted to be here and how important he is to us.”
Smith and the Winfields
Pro Football Focus ranks Smith as the NFL’s third-best safety and Tampa Bay rookie Antoine Winfield Jr. as No. 6. The former University of Minnesota star is the son of former Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield Sr., who was Smith’s teammate when he was a rookie in 2012.
“He was like in middle school or something when I was a rookie, but I think we already knew he was going to be pretty good,” Smith said. “He had it in him, so it’s cool to see him having success. I know his dad’s pumped.”
Smith credits Winfield Sr. for being an influence when he was a rookie.
“He was later in his career, so he wasn’t going nuts in practice and stuff like that, but he was getting the work that he needed and then when it came time to play, he was banging guys, he was stealing the ball, hitting linemen,” Smith said.
Heading to a bye
Teams sometimes lose focus in the last game before a bye week. But not Mike Zimmer’s Vikings.
Since Zimmer took over as coach in 2014, Minnesota is 5-1 in the week before a bye. The only loss was 23-20 in 2015 at Denver; the Broncos went on to win Super Bowl 50.
The Vikings have a bye after Sunday’s game against Atlanta and there are big differences this season. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, players will not be allowed to leave the area during the week and will continue to be tested daily.
“It will be a lot different, but it is what you make of it,” said wide receiver Adam Thielen. “Just try to spend a lot of time with family and also take care of your body and your mind and get ready to go for the rest of the season.”