Philadelphia Eagles

How has massive contract changed Mailata?

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It’s kind of crazy to think about how quickly everything has changed for Jordan Mailata.

Twenty months ago he had never played in an organized football game. He was earning NFL minimum of $675,000 on a rookie 7th-round contract. He was still a project, an obscure Australian rugby player trying a new sport. He had finished his first two seasons on Injured Reserve without playing a snap. He was 24 and a 3rd-stringer on the depth chart.

Now?

He’s a dominating young left tackle, he’s earning $16 million per year, he’s one of the most popular athletes in the city, he’s going on reality TV shows and he’s a true centerpiece of one of the NFL’s best offensive lines.

So much has changed. But in Mailata’s mind nothing’s changed. 

“The standard has always been high,” Mailata said recently. “Regardless of how many years I’ve been a starter or wasn’t a starter, I’ve always held myself to a high standard because of the players we have in the room, the standards that the coaches set for us, the expectations that we have to meet as players to play as an Eagle.

“And so for me and I guess the rest of the locker room we all play or try to achieve that higher standard that is set once you set foot in the building.”

Mailata started 10 games in 2020 but as recently as last summer, he still had to compete with Andre Dillard for the Eagles’ starting left tackle job.

(He won.)

That’ll be the last time for a while he has to compete for anything.

He signed that four-year, $64 million contract last September and then went out and played spectacular football.

Pro Football Focus graded him as the second-best left tackle in the NFL, behind only nine-time Pro Bowler Trent Williams of the 49ers.

We’ve all seen what can happen when a player has security. When he has his position locked up. When he has more money than any of us can imagine.

Mailata said all the wealth in the world won’t change who he is and how he does his job.

“To be honest, the contract has provided that sense of stability where I’m financially set,” he said. “But when I walk in this building, I have this attitude of, ‘I have no contract,’ and that my goal is to get better every day. That’s how I see it.

“It doesn’t matter what I placed on PFF last year if I’m not hitting the right assignments and plays. Which I know, because we watch it here with Stout (offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland), and Stout would never let me forget, even plays from my rookie year.

“So that’s the one thing that I love walking into this building, the sense of accountability. It doesn’t matter how much you get paid, someone’s going to hold you accountable, and I feel like I’ve adapted this attitude where I do hold myself to that high standard that the coaches set and I’m able to be accountable and look at the film and be honest with myself.

“I can tell when it’s a bad technique and be honest and Stout will let you know when it’s a bad technique because he won’t let you forget it for the next week.”

It’s easy to get distracted by your celebrity.

Mailata spent a few weeks in L.A. earlier this offseason taping an appearance on the Masked Singer, and that kind of stuff can get in your head.

You start enjoying the celebrity aspect a little too much and get away from the things you’ve always done.

Nobody has to worry about that ever happening with Mailata.

“It’s helped me with the way I deal with my outside or off-the-field stuff,” he said. “Because football is primary. It will always be primary. Everything else is secondary and so I thank coach Stout for the way I think now. Because that’s just how it was ingrained in me from the day I got here.”

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