Jason Peters isn’t the only Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle hitting free agency this offseason. NFL insider Mike Garafolo reports Halapoulivaati Vaitai will also make it the open market.
That Big V will be big available doesn’t come as a shock. But you may be surprised by the contract figures he’s reportedly drawing:
While we’re on the subject of #Eagles OTs, Halapoulivaati Vaitai (“Big V” to his friends) is expected to do very well in free agency. Have heard estimates of anywhere from $8m to $12m per year on a new deal.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 5, 2020
For context, $8 million to $12 million annually ranges from top 19 to top 13 offensive tackle money in the NFL. In other words, some teams clearly view Vaitai as a quality starter.
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.
In any case, Vaitai won’t be back with the Birds in 2020. Some team will pay him more than the Eagles can reasonably afford. It sounds like he’ll sign a contract that’s lucrative enough to qualify for a compensatory draft pick. Of course, the Eagles’ expected activity in free agency will likely cancel out that possibility. Still, good luck to Big V.