Lions OL Halapoulivaati Vaitai Agrees To Pay Cut, Removes 2024 Season From Deal

Although the Lions featured one of the NFL’s better offensive lines last season, they were missing one of their starters throughout. Rather than make Halapoulivaati Vaitai a cap casualty, the team will see if the former starter can contribute in 2023.

The Lions reached a pay-cut agreement with Vaitai, Justin Rogers of the Detroit News tweets. Vaitai has also agreed to trim the 2024 season off his contract, making him a free agent after this coming year. Vaitai was attached to a five-year, $45MM deal — one signed in 2020 — but after he missed all of last season, he agreed to a reduction that will create cap space for the Lions.

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Vaitai’s base salary will drop from $9.4MM to $3MM in 2023, per OverTheCap, with 2024 now being a void year. Vaitai’s 2023 cap hit will be reduced from $12.45MM to $5.1MM. As of Thursday morning, the Lions hold $26.1MM in cap space — third-most in the NFL. The void component here would add $3.8MM in dead money onto Detroit’s 2024 cap if Vaitai is not re-signed before the 2024 league year.

A September back surgery sidelined Vaitai last year, leading Evan Brown to replace him as the Lions’ primary right guard. Vaitai, 29, had worked as Detroit’s starter there from 2020-21, having come over from Philadelphia. Brown, who was Frank Ragnow‘s injury replacement in 2021, has since signed with the Seahawks. The Lions, however, have brought back Graham Glasgow as a potential guard option.

Formerly an Eagles tackle fill-in, Vaitai collected $20MM guaranteed as part of his 2020 agreement. He already reworked that deal in 2021 to create cap space. The Lions will see if they can get more out of that deal, and rather than refuse a pay cut and head into free agency coming off an injury-erased season, Vaitai will aim to return to form in Detroit. The Lions still have all five of their O-line starters in place from 2021, with Ragnow, Taylor Decker, Jonah Jackson and Penei Sewell under contract.

Glasgow’s cap figure will check in at $2.68MM, Rogers adds (on Twitter). The Lions also used a void year to finalize this reunion, though only $1.47MM would accelerate onto Detroit’s 2024 cap were Glasgow not re-signed before the start of the next league year. Glasgow, 30, wanted to return to Detroit but said (via Rogers) the 49ers and Panthers showed interest as well. The 49ers have since added Jon Feliciano as an interior swingman. Glasgow could wind up with a bigger role in Detroit, looking like the top replacement for Vaitai. Should Vaitai be unable to return to full strength, Glasgow has a clear path to becoming a Lions starter again.

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