The Detroit Lions are set to go into the season with the core of their roster as-is, but could they find a trade market for guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai?
Among the sins of the previous regime for the Detroit Lions, the five-year, $45 million deal given to Halipoulivaati Vaitai is down the way a bit. It was and still is an overpay, but after a poor first season with the team in 2020 “Big V” was better at right guard last season.
The Lions have one of the best offensive lines in the league. But it’s fairly clear Vaitai is the weakest link, such that one should even be named. He is experienced though, and the only current Lion with a Super Bowl ring.
With a strong emphasis on “consider”, Brent Sobleski of Bleacher Report has named a player each NFL team should consider trading before the 2022 season starts. For the Lions, he went with Vaitai.
"The Detroit Lions still aren’t a fully realized team under the direction of general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell. The current regime entered arguably the worst situation last season from a roster standpoint, and it’s still building a lineup capable of executing its vision.The offensive line is the nexus point. The strength of the front five will determine how successful the Lions can be this fall. So why trade one of the starters?Halapoulivaati Vaitai is the weakest link among the starting five, and his level of play isn’t commensurate with his pay. Vaitai signed a five-year, $45 million contract prior to the 2020 season when the Lions were trying to build up their trenches.A Vaitai trade would save Detroit $7 million, and his spot can be capably filled by Evan Brown, who started 12 games last season for an injured Ragnow, Logan Stenberg or Tommy Kraemer."
NFL rumors: Could the Lions find a trade market for Halapoulivaati Vaitai?
The idea Evan Brown, would filled in capably at center for Frank Ragnow last year, could shift to right guard seamlessly feels like a reach. Which isn’t to say it couldn’t happen, it’s just he barely played before last season (755 of his 799 career snaps). 2020 fourth-round pick Logan Stenberg has barely played so far in his career, and 2021 undrafted free agent Tommy Kraemer played some last year but is not starter-caliber just yet.
The more interesting angle for the Lions to trade Vatai is the investments they made in undrafted rookie offensive lineman Obinna Eze and Kevin Jarvis. If either or both of them, particularly and more likely Jarvis due to his 25 starts at right guard at Michigan State, stand out in camp Vaitai could become an expensive backup. Or a tradeable asset.
A trade market for Vaitai would be driven by camp/preseason game injuries elsewhere, not sudden revelations of need. And the Lions may not seriously entertain offers for him anyway. But there is a chance, however miniscule, that Vaitai is in another uniform before Week 1.