On the eve of the 2021 regular-season opener, the Eagles took care of some future business, locking up starting left tackle Jordan Mailata to a contract extension through the 2025 season, the team announced on Saturday morning. A seventh-round draft pick in 2018, Mailata's remarkable story continues with the new deal.
This is a story that has been told many times, but it certainly bears repeating: Mailata spent his youth in Australia playing rugby before turning his attention to the United States and the NFL. He attended IMG Academy in Florida prior to the 2018 NFL Draft to train and learn the ways of American football. Eagles Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach Jeff Stoutland visited Mailata and attended his workouts and saw a 6-foot-8, 360-pound young man with freakish athletic skills, a great work ethic, and a coachable personality. Stoutland lobbied Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman on Mailata's behalf – passionately – and the team traded up in the seventh round on Day 3 of that draft weekend to select Mailata with the 233rd pick.
Mailata was in the NFL. The journey was about to get real.
To reach this point, the Eagles village came together to help develop Mailata into what he is today: The team's starting left tackle who saw his first regular-season action last season when he played in 15 games and started 10 and improved every step of the way. For a team like the Eagles that values and invests heavily in its offensive line – more on that in a moment – Mailata's progress has been a huge plus. He spent his first two seasons on Injured Reserve but used that time to build his body to withstand the rigors of the position and to learn the nuances of playing offensive line in the NFL.
Last season, Mailata's progress was a bright spot for an offensive line that was battered by injuries. Mailata stepped up and stood out at left tackle, one of the game's premium positions.
"I think the rationale (on taking the chance to draft Mailata) was that this guy was so physically gifted and we had spent so much time on him that if he was going to succeed or fail, we wanted him to do it in Philly," Roseman said. "We committed when we drafted him that the first two years we were going to develop him. He's a freak show. It was all new to him. Those first two years, I'm not sure we got a lot of return on the investment, but it started last year when he played.
"Stout continued to work with him and, like all of our young players, you could see Jordan getting better and better."
The Eagles have long had one of the league's best offensive lines and they are committed to keeping it that way. Mailata is part of a strong group of tackles signed into the future – Lane Johnson is signed through 2025, Andre Dillard is signed through 2022 with a team option for 2023, while Jack Driscoll and Brett Toth are in their second and third seasons, respectively.
"We're always going to build from the lines out," Roseman has said many times. "That's what we believe in doing."
Taking a chance on a raw athlete and trusting the eye of a coach as well as trusting that the coaching staff and the entire organization would help Mailata along in the foreign game in a new land paid off big time for the Eagles. The focus, of course, is on beating the Falcons on Sunday. But on Saturday, the Eagles secured a key piece of the present for the future by securing the services of Jordan Mailata, an incredible football story that has come true, with a long-term contract extension.