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Big V signs big money contract with Lions

Eagles backup gets paid to be a starter for Detroit.

Detroit Lions v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Philadelphia Eagles free agent offensive tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai is signing a five-year, $50 million contract with the Detroit Lions, according to a report from NFL insider Adam Caplan.

Ready for some high level analysis? Okay, here it goes: that’s ... a lot of money for a player who’s been a career backup to this point!

But, hey, this development was expected. It was just a couple weeks ago when NFL Network reported Vaitai was expected to make between $8 million and $12 million annually. $10 million splits the difference.

Here’s what we previously wrote about Big V:

Vaitai, who turns 27 in June, has definitely earned an opportunity to get paid. Including the playoffs, he’s logged 24 starts in 61 games played since being drafted by the Eagles with a fifth-round selection in 2016. Vaitai most notably started 10 games for Philadelphia en route to their Super Bowl LII victory. He’s also demonstrated the versatility to play at both left and right tackle in addition to right guard.

In a more ideal world, the Eagles could re-sign Vaitai to be the top backup behind projected 2020 starting tackles Andre Dillard and Lane Johnson. The reality is they’re going to lose Big V, however, and they’ll need to find someone to replace him. It’s possible that freak athlete Jordan Mailata might take a step forward to become the Eagles’ swing tackle. Or maybe it’s Matt Pryor who can handle that role. In the undesirable event that Peters is retained, Dillard would be the top backup left tackle while Mailata or Pryor could be the guy on the right side.

Vaitai was a valuable depth piece for the Eagles but he obviously wanted a starting opportunity (and starting money) and he has that now with the Lions. Good for him. It remains to be seen how he’ll fare in that role; there’s reason to be skeptical. In any case, it’s up to Howie Roseman to reinforce the team’s offensive line depth.

For those wondering if Vaitai’s contract will qualify for a compensatory pick ... yes, it will. But that projected pick could easily be cancelled out by free agent signings the Eagles are expected to make. One can make the case the Eagles should’ve traded Vaitai ahead of the 2019 trade deadline instead of potentially losing him for nothing in return.

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