The Detroit Lions had a decision to make this offseason along their offensive line, and many thought that a player would be leaving ahead of the season.
In the end, that didn’t prove to be true. Guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai restructured his contract which allowed for a return. On top of that, the Lions added Graham Glasgow to the mix to serve as a reserve.
Suddenly, a spot up front at guard many thought could be a weakness is still a major strength, even though the team lost Evan Brown. That was by design for the Lions, who knew they wanted to stay strong up front.
Speaking with the media during the NFL owners meetings on Tuesday, March 28, Dan Campbell dished on the return of Vaitai and the team bringing Glasgow in as a free agent. As he explained, the team feels as if they are now covered completely.
“This is my new term, you’re raising the floor. A guy like Graham (Glasgow) raises the floor. He’s been a starter in this league, he’s been a pretty good center, he’s got guard flexibility obviously so he’s a guy that we know can go in there and compete to start and let’s see where Halapoulivaati (Vaitai) is at coming off of this back (injury),” Campbell said. “I know that we have some optimism in the building, but we won’t know. Really that’s what Graham gives you. He gives the ability to step in and he can hold the fort down. If you need him at either of the positions – left guard, right guard or center – you got a guy. It’s good to get.”
With Vaitai, the lingering question is going to be the back. He missed the 2022 season after undergoing surgery and then rehabbing it. Much like defensive lineman Levi Onwuzurike, though, the team doesn’t know what will happen even as hopeful as they may be.
By adding Glasgow, the team will be covered either way. If Vaitai can play, they will be even deeper, which will be to their advantage as a long season wears on. In addition to that, they might elect on drafting a guard at some point this year to bring along in the future.
The Lions didn’t have a weak offensive line last season without Vaitai, but by keeping him and adding another high-level starter, things might only look better for the team. It was a savvy move by the Lions to keep a key roster spot a net-positive.
Brad Holmes Praises Halapoulivaati Vaitai’s Fit
Where is Vaitai at in terms of his recovery? The team seems hopeful and optimistic about where he is trending right now as he continues to heal and get ready for 2023.
General manager Brad Holmes offered an update when speaking with the media on Tuesday, March 28. As he explained, good news has come in on Vaitai’s health, which led the team to be able to proceed confidently on renegotiating his contract.
“He’s in a good place. We just got some recent reports back that he’s in a really good place and we felt confident about about doing the deal and glad to have him back to compete,” Holmes explained.
As Holmes explained, it’s good to keep a solid player and fit in Vaitai while also adding something similar in Glasgow.
“Look, Vaitai’s a good player. He’s a starting level guard that fits what we’re about on the offensive line. Obviously there’s question marks about his health and all of that. To get Glasgow in the fold with position versatility, we all know about his ability at guard, but the stuff that he did at center on tape last year was was really exciting. It’s good to have that that competition,” he said.
Between Campbell and Holmes, it seems as if the Lions like what they have in Vaitai and Glasgow, and that’s for a good reason. Suddenly, there is plenty of experience to go around up front.
Lions Guard Situation Looking Extra Strong
Instead of making a move up front, the Lions elected to keep Vaitai and add Glasgow to the mix in order to boost up the depth along the offensive line.
The deal with Glasgow is a low-risk pact for the Lions, considering it’s for one-year, which has been a Holmes special through the last few years. To that end, it’s a good move for the Lions to beef up their depth with a quality starter that the team should also know well given he was drafted by Detroit in 2016.
On one side, the team has Pro Bowler Jonah Jackson, who has played in and started 45 games in three years. He’s not a concern in the least bit.
On the other side, the Lions decided to keep Vaitai in the end, only adding to the strength of their offensive line for 2023. If Vaitai isn’t ready or struggles with health, Glasgow could start or chip in. Regardless, Glasgow is excellent depth for one of the more stout offensive lines in the NFL.
Glasgow was a tough guard when he last played in Detroit, and has plenty of experience with 99 games played in the NFL and 91 starts. Notably for the Lions, Glasgow played in 62 games for the Lions with 58 starts. Combined with Vaitai’s 80 career games and that’s plenty of experience.
Having both him and Vaitai together as a tandem is a good thing for the Lions ahead of 2023.