Philadelphia Eagles GM Howie Roseman has never been shy about pulling off a blockbuster trade. It doesn’t matter if it’s the beginning of August or the end of October, he’s constantly spinning the tires on ways to improve the roster. Now rumors are heating up that he may move a promising young offensive lineman before the second preseason game.
According to Chad Forbes, multiple teams have expressed interest in trading for hybrid offensive lineman Halapoulivaati Vaitai. The Eagles started Vaitai at right guard last week in their preseason opener and the 315-pounder is expected to start there if Brandon Brooks can’t go in Week 1.
Jordan Mailata, the former Australian rugby player, drew the start at right tackle against Tennessee and finally looked like the 6-foot-8 monster everyone had been dreaming about. With starter Lane Johnson nursing a knee injury, Mailata will get an extended look there for the rest of the preseason.
Rookie Andre Dillard was another guy that impressed the coaching staff Thursday with his powerful ability to effortlessly shove pass-rushers aside. He started in place of future Hall of Famer Jason Peters and put on a show.
“He’s put in a lot of work. Obviously, he got the start. Did some really good things,” Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said. “We obviously know he can pass protect, but for us it was about the run game, and how well he could maneuver in the run game. He did a good job.”
Dillard showed his aggressiveness during Monday’s practice, too, when he started a fight with defensive end Derek Barnett. It was harmless and no one got hurt. However, Pederson did give the 23-year-old an old-fashioned lecture after the scrum.
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Back to the possible trade report. Forbes pointed to the emergence of Dillard and Mailata — plus the emergence of Matt Pryor, a sixth-round pick in 2018 — as big reasons why the Eagles should consider a trade. Vaitai, who has started 17 out of a possible 39 contests in three seasons in Philadelphia, has quickly established himself as a viable NFL starter.
His stock will never be higher, meaning the time to move the big Texan might be now. Remember, Vaitai was the starter for the Eagles at left tackle in Super Bowl LII when they beat the Patriots 41-33. He took over in Week 8 after Jason Peters was lost for the year with a season-ending knee injury.
Mailata Emerging Into Monster Tackle
Jordan Mailata is the player no one wanted to give up on. At 6-foot-8 and 360 pounds, he was born to play tackle and the former Australian rugby player is finally growing into his oversized britches. Mailata started last week against Tennessee and played 53 snaps, more than anyone else on the Eagles’ offense. He held his own and earned praise from head coach Doug Pederson.
“He did some good things. We were pleased with his performance,” Pederson said. “It wasn’t perfect. There were one or two there, just little mental errors. Overall, I felt like he came out with an eagerness, with an aggressiveness, and really showed the type of player that I think he’s capable of being, and what we’ve seen in him, and it came out in the game.”
Right now, the 22-year-old is listed as the No. 2 right tackle on the Eagles depth chart. He’ll start in place of the injured Lane Johnson once again Thursday in the team’s second preseason game. The big guy is just doing what he’s told, at least for now.
“I’m just doing what I’m told,” Mailata told reporters, via the Delco Times. “Trying to be that next man up, have that mentality. I’m very lucky and very fortunate. They put their trust in me, and I’ve got to be accountable.”
Mailata still hasn’t played in a regular-season game. If he keeps turning heads like he did last week, watch out.