2. OG Halapoulivaati Vaitai
Vaitai will never totally live up to the big contract the previous regime in Detroit gave him. However he did play better last season, and his mentorship of Penei Sewell shouldn’t and can’t be discounted.
The Lions did not draft a guard. But they did give big guaranteed money to two undrafted free agent offensive lineman (Kevin Jarvis and Obinna Eze., $155,000 and $170,000 guaranteed respectively), which was a interesting development with rookie minicamp, OTAs and regular minicamp on the horizon. That money is a drop in the bucket in the scope of veteran NFL salaries, but six figure guarantees for UDFAs are pretty rare and the Lions did it for two offensive lineman who seem likely to project to guard in the NFL.
Vaitai would be a more likely post-draft cut if the Lions had selected a guard. But the two aforementioned young guys seem sure to get a fair chance to shine, and fellow UDFA offensive lineman Zein Obeid out of Ferris State can’t be totally dismissed either.
If one (or more than one) of the young lineman shows he’s a keeper, Vaitai’s hold on the starting job at right guard may loosen in kind. Keeping him as an experienced (however expensive) backup could be done without a problem. Or the Lions can cut him post-June 1, and clear $7 million of his $8.73 million cap hit for this year.