The Detroit Lions had a big need along their offensive front, and have reportedly made a big splash in order to fill it. Monday, according to reports, the team agreed to terms with offensive lineman Halapoulivaati Vaitai formally of the Philadelphia Eagles.
NFL insider Adam Caplan revealed that the Lions would be signing Vaitai to a five year contract that would be worth $50 million dollars.
As Caplan also noted, Vaitai is likely to play right tackle for the Lions.
Vaitai will now replace the released Rick Wagner up front in Detroit.
Halapoulivaati Vaitai Statistics
Vaitai, out of TCU, is only 26 years old and has 20 career starts under his belt from his time with the Eagles. Vaitai has also played in 55 NFL games in his career, and was a former fifth round pick of the Eagles in 2016.
Vaitai helped the Eagles win Super Bowl LII, and is an up and coming lineman. The team will now try to change their fortunes up front with a key free agent who can play either tackle spot or guard, even though Vaitai is an offensive tackle by trade.
That versatility was likely the huge selling point in the end for the Lions, as Caplan pointed out.
Analyst Predicts Lions Free Agent Haul
A few months back, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press was asked in a mailbag segment what free agents he could see the Lions targeting, and proceeded to name plenty that could be of interest to the team when the negotiating period opens in March.
According to Birkett, there is one side of the ball that is likely to see the most upgrade, and it’s the defensive side. Birkett thinks that the Lions will prioritize a cornerback, a lineman and a backup quarterback for the team this offseason the heaviest.
Here’s a look at what he wrote on the names that could eventually be in play for Detroit when all is said and done:
“The Lions need a cornerback, no matter what they decide to do with Darius Slay, and Byron Jones might be the best option. He tackles, he’s got size, and I don’t know how the Dallas Cowboys can bring him back given the other contracts they have to hand out.
I’d be stunned if the Lions don’t sign a veteran to back up Matthew Stafford. They showed some interest in Case Keenum last year, but couldn’t afford his salary. He won’t cost nearly as much as a free agent, so he’d be a possibility.
Ex-Patriots like Elandon Roberts will probably be on any Lions’ free-agent list, and while I doubt the Kansas City Chiefs let defensive tackle Chris Jones reach free agency, he should be the Lions’ No. 1 target if he’s available.”
Unsurprisingly, defense could be the major focus, and that makes sense for a team that finished the 2019 season in dreadful fashion on that side of the ball.
Offensive line was not on the menu then, but clearly, with the Vaitai signing, it is now.
Lions Cap Space in 2020
Detroit will have a decent chunk of change to spend this offseason, having restructured Matthew Stafford’s deal and completed numerous releases to push their cap space to just over $50 million dollars for the coming season. With this money, the Lions will have multiple different needs to address including the defensive line, secondary as well as potential upgrades on offense.
The Lions could always open up more space with a few savvy moves, and there could be other cap casualties that might impact the team’s final salary number more dramatically during March.
Vaitai will cost a decent chunk of change, but Detroit’s other needs on offense and defense can still be filled effectively.