Former Eagles Swing Tackle Called ‘Colossal-Sized $50 Million Mistake’

Halapoulivaati Vaitai

Getty Halapoulivaati Vaitai pounces on a fumble.

Halapoulivaati Vaitai earned the nickname “Big V” in Philly. His Detroit moniker is a lot less flattering.

Vaitai spent four extremely productive seasons on the Eagles’ offensive line where he served as the best backup tackle/guard in football. The line never skipped a beat anytime Big V was pressed into service, either as a starter or off the bench. Remember, it was Vaitai who started at left tackle in Super Bowl LII and not Jason Peters.

Now he’s in Detroit after getting paid starter money — five years at $45 million, with $20 million guaranteed — and apparently it isn’t go so well. Big V missed practice on Thursday and there’s a good chance he misses Week 1 with a foot injury.

According to former NFL scout Daniel Kelly, Vaitai plays more like a “solid economical backup” than a starter, and his slow feet are “going to get Matthew Stafford crushed.” Vaitai is the new starting right tackle for the Lions and the former fifth-round pick just doesn’t seem up to the challenge.

Kelly, who spent four years in the Jets’ organization as a pro scout, broke down Vaitai’s tape in full. He came away not impressed.

Big V is a colossal-sized man and a colossal-sized $50 million mistake that the Lions have made … I saw him as someone who could play either tackle spot in a real pinch — and what I mean is like in an emergency situation. Big V struck me as a solid economical backup. As a starter at right tackle, his feet are going to get Matthew Stafford crushed. This one baffles me. This one truly baffles me. I generally like a lot of what Quinn and Patricia do, and I like the team they have built. But, this one is a real reach.

Interesting commentary from a real talent evaluator. Either way, the Eagles sure could use Big V this year after losing two key starters to injury — Brandon Brooks, Andre Dillard — plus the uncertainty surrounding Lane Johnson and his “ankle scope” surgery.

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Updating Johnson’s Ankle Surgery & Clean Up

According to ESPN’s Tim McManus, Johnson underwent ankle surgery in August after a “clean-up” procedure fixed some of the lingering damage from last year’s high ankle sprain. The Eagles’ starting right tackle is considered “day-to-day” and hasn’t been ruled out for Sunday’s season opener.

“He’s a guy that’s day-to-day,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “We’ll see where he’s at at the end of the week, but he’s doing well. I’ll just kind of update you.”

If Johnson can’t play in Week 1, the Eagles will be looking at throwing out someone with no experience starting in the NFL. The contingency plans behind him are: third-year swing tackle Jordan Mailata, rookie Jack Driscoll, and second-year guard Nate Herbig. The most likely scenario would be third-year guard/tackle Matt Pryor moving from right guard to right tackle and putting Herbig at right guard. It’s certainly been a revolving door on the offensive line for Philly this summer.

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