Birds, Mailata Agree To Blockbuster Extension
Eagles left tackle Jordan Mailata put on a football helmet for the first time in his life in April, 2018.
Just three years later, the 6-foot-8, 380-pound former professional rugby player from Australia agreed to a four-year, $64-million extension on Saturday, sources said. The upside on the deal would pay him up to $80 million based on Pro Bowl selections and other factors.
Mailata, a 2018 seventh-round pick (233rd overall), had originally signed a four-year, $2.55m rookie deal. He will be able to sign another huge extension well before he turns 30 if he continues to improve. He turned 24 this past March.
The fourth-year pro was raw and unrefined when the Eagles drafted him. But one thing was clear in the team’s rookie minicamp and OTA practices in 2018 – he had tremendous athletic ability and, if he could eventually put it all together, Mailata could challenge for a starting job.
But before that time, he spent part of his first two seasons on injured reserve and did not appear in a game until last season, his third year. And it was in that third year that he started to realize his enormous potential.
Through hard work and a strong desire to get better, along with great coaching from long-time Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, Mailata started 10 games (nine at left tackle, one at right tackle, 65 percent playing time on offense) and at times looked dominant.
And in this year’s training camp, the native of Bankstown, Australia wound up beating out 2019 first-round pick Andre Dillard for the job.
Practice observers noted that Mailata looked noticeably bigger physically, which is almost hard to believe if you saw him in person before. Sources said Mailata was over 400 pounds during one point in the off-season, but easily lost the weight in order to get down to around 380. Ordinarily teams would want to see a left tackle be no more than 350, but because his body fat count is so good for such a large man, playing in the range of 375-plus is clearly not an issue.
As one NFL personnel source said about his play on tape from the 2020 season: “You couldn’t believe what you were seeing. A guy as big as he is shouldn’t be able to move like that.” One other factor in Mailata’s favor, the source pointed out: 35.5-inch arm length (measured at the pro day) is one of the longest of any LT in the NFL.
However, it’s worth noting that Mailata’s rise to fame with the Eagles might not have happened if Stoutland had not attended his pro day workout prior to the NFL Draft that year. Stoutland wound up running the workout.
Eagles GM Howie Roseman encouraged Stoutland to attend the pro day and Stoutland not only attended, but provided positive feedback to Roseman and other front office personnel.
And just a month later, the team wound up moving up 17 spots in the 7th round in order to select the former South Sydney Rabbitohs rugby player and the rest is now history—a history that no one really thought that could ever be written.
– Adam Caplan is an NFL/Eagles Insider, Staff Writer for InsideTheBirds.com and co-host of the Inside The Birds podcast.