The one-sided battle to protect Jalen Hurts’ blind side ended before it began at Philadelphia Eagles’ training camp. Now the winner has cashed in on a bank-breaking pay day that establishes him as the franchise left tackle.
Jordan Mailata signed a four-year extension worth $64 million, per Inside the Birds’ Adam Caplan, and keeps the 6-foot-8, 365-pound “freak of nature” in midnight green through the 2025 season. The deal includes incentives that could push it up to $80 million, including $40.85 million in guaranteed money.
Barring injury, Mailata should be the starting left tackle in Philly for the foreseeable future. The Eagles officially announced the move around 12:30 p.m. on Saturday in a tweet where the big Aussie credits “love, gratitude, and excitement.”
Mailata earned the starting job thanks to a dominant camp where he beat out third-year man Andre Dillard. The former Australian rugby player had never played organized football at any level prior to getting drafted in the seventh round (233rd overall) of the 2018 NFL draft. His mentality hasn’t changed since the first day he walked through the doors of the NovaCare Complex.
“I still got to earn my place, like I said when I finished off last year, I think it was at the last press conference, I’m still trying to prove to myself that I am a dominant left tackle in this league and not a rugby player anymore,” Mailata told reporters on Aug. 3. “And in order for me to do that, I have to keep progressing and challenging myself every day. Which every year we come back that’s how I present it. No matter how much of a good year that I’ve had or a bad year, I always come back and challenge myself in that way.”
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Mailata Wants to ‘Get This Championship Here’
Mailata missed the first and only Super Bowl championship in Eagles’ history by one season. That squad had future Hall of Famer Jason Peters at left tackle, followed by fill-in starter Halapoulivaati Vaitai. However, Mailata learned a lot from those guys during his rookie season in 2018 and knows what it takes to win a ring.
“Excited to be here for another four years, representing this team and city,” Mailata said in a Twitter video. “I can’t wait to keep representing my family and everything that I have in me. Give it to you guys to get this championship here. Remember, Go Birds, baby!”
The colossal “ball of clay” was a huge risk coming out of college, a developmental player with no experience. He didn’t get on anybody’s radar until a rugby video went viral. From there, Mailata trained at IMG Academy as part of the NFL’s International Player Pathway program. Here is an early scouting report (via NFL Media):
Mailata has never played a down of American football so attempting to learn the tackle position and perform it at the highest level makes this an extremely daunting challenge. What Mailata does have is rare size and physical gifts with the movement skills that give him a chance at a very challenging position. Mailata has a good chance of being drafted as a long-shot ticket that an NFL team hopes they will be able to cash in a few years down the line.
Andre Dillard on the Trading Block?
It would stand to reason the Eagles would try and trade Dillard with Mailata entrenched as the starter. Dillard was the 22nd overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft, a guy considered a plug-and-play starting left tackle coming out of Washington State. While he has failed to live up to expectations, Dillard certainly could fetch a nice price on the open market. Tackles are valuable.
However, the Eagles don’t have much depth behind Mailata on the roster. Second-year tackle Jack Driscoll is on injured reserve, plus he’s been training at right tackle. Brett Toth is the backup at right tackle right now. And Le’Raven Clark is the only other real option down on the practice squad. Head coach Nick Sirianni did express confidence in Dillard after final roster cuts.
“Jordan did a good job of winning that position, but then again, I don’t want to short Andre here at all,” Sirianni said. “When he was in, he played really well, and he played a phenomenal last preseason game, and I thought that was the case also in the Jets practices, as well.”