3. OG Halapoulivaati Vaitai
The five-year, $45 million deal the Lions’ previous regime gave Vaitai in 2020 looked ill-conceived from the start. Two seasons in, and it’s not meant as a knock on him, they’ve gotten solid play, but not top-eight highest-paid guard in the league-level play, from their right guard.
To create a bit of extra cap space to get through this season as COVID-19 and injuries thinned the roster, the Lions restructured Vaitai’s contract. Long story short, with three years on his contract over which to spread the restructuring (which came via an immediate signing bonus), Detroit raised the dead money hit to cut Vaitai this offseason by $1 million (to $5.2 million) and knocked down the cap savings to do so by $700,000 (to $3.5 million).
If the Lions wind up drafting a guard, and it’s not out of the question they would on Day 2 or Day 3, that player could be allowed to compete with Vaitai for his starting job. That would make him a pretty expensive backup, though the Lions learned the value of offensive line depth this season quite well and Vaitai has experience at tackle in his career.
As with Williams, the Lions cutting Vaitai this offseason is patently unlikely. But there is a small percentage chance it happens, and that’s enough to make this list.