As of now, the Detroit Lions are expected to start the very expensive Halapoulivaati Vaitai at right guard despite being paid like a tackle, but Vaitai’s deal shouldn’t deter the organization from pursuing veteran free agent Trai Turner.
In a last-ditched effort to put a respectable product on the field to salvage his job, former Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn overpaid for Vaitai.
Vaitai had been primarily a valuable utility backup offensive lineman that spent time playing all the positions along the OL aside from the center spot for the Philadelphia Eagles before striking gold with the Detroit Lions in free agency.
Vaitai signed a lucrative five-year $45 million deal before last season, including $20 million in guaranteed money. The interesting part of the deal is that after the 2021 season, Vaitai will be a prime candidate to be bought out as his dead cap number goes from $14.6 million to $4.2 million.
Recently, Bill Barnwell of ESPN suggested that Turner and the Detroit Lions could be a good match.
"“The Lions are starting over on offense, and we know how much coach Dan Campbell wants wrecking balls at the line of scrimmage,” Barnwell explained. “Turner would step in at right guard and help solidify the line in front of new Detroit quarterback Jared Goff.”"
Turner is best known for his time anchoring the Carolina Panthers’ run-first offensive line. Turner spent the first six seasons of his career in Carolina and earned the right to play in five straight Pro Bowls during that time.
There is a slight connection between Turner and the Detroit Lions, and it’s via Detroit’s first-year offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn. The veteran guard spent part of last season with the Los Angeles Chargers but had been limited to nine starts due to injury and was recently cut this past March.
Turner wouldn’t command much on the open market at this juncture of the offseason after producing an awful 34.8 overall grade courtesy of Pro Football Focus (PFF) for his efforts in the 2020 season.
If the Detroit Lions decided to bring Turner to Motown this summer, it would push Vaitai and second-year guard Logan Stenberg. And if he’s healthy, he may end up winning the starting job and provide running backs D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams with an enormous body on the right side to help create rush lanes lined up beside rookie Penei Sewell.