3 former Detroit Lions starters who might be done in the NFL

These three former Detroit Lions' starters just might be finished in the NFL.
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1. OG Halapoulivaati Vaitai

Vaitai was the last substantial vestige of the Bob Quinn/Matt Patricia era for the Lions. The big contract he signed in 2020 was restructured to make 2023 the final year of it, after a back injury cost him all of 2022.

"Big V" opened last season healthy and back as the Lions' starting right guard, and he performed very well in Week 1. Then a knee injury in Week 2 opened the door for Graham Glasgow to take over, and Glasgow never gave the job back other than when injuries forced him to fill in elsewhere.

Vaitai got a start in Week 7, then a recurrence of back trouble sidelined him for the rest of the season.

Vaitai acknowledged he briefly considered retirement as he rehabbed the back issue that cost him all of 2022. It's worth wondering if losing basically two seasons to back issues has brought that back to his mind this offseason, perhaps more than briefly or casually, if he can't find a new team soon.

Rooted in his experience and having a Super Bowl ring from his time with the Eagles, Spotrac has Vaitai listed among the top free agent guards still available into the month of June.

Someone may take a flier on Vaitai and give him a chance to earn a job in training camp. The Lions would (should) have some inside knowledge of his back issues, and they may consider bringing him back in that vein as they try to find experienced offensive line depth.

But if the Lions were going to bring Vaitai back, it feels like they'd have done so by now. That may be a signal to the rest of the league they know something about his health. Maybe teams have reached out to Vaitai's agent, only to be told he is leaning toward retiring. No team is going to give him any real financial commitment at this point, or promise him anything in terms of a role or roster spot.

It sure seems like Vaitai will retire, he just hasn't made it official yet.


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