Lions sign CB Darius Slay to 4-year, $50M extension

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park – In a move that’s been anticipated all offseason, the Detroit Lions have locked up cornerback Darius Slay with a long-term extension. According to a multiple sources, the Lions and Slay have signed a four-year deal worth $50.2 million with $23 million guaranteed.

Slay, a second-round draft pick in 2013, has rapidly developed into the shutdown corner the organization has sought for years. After a rookie season filled with struggles, he made significant strides in his second season, finishing in the top 10 in the NFL with 17 passes defended.

He continued to justify his standing as one of the league’s best young defensive backs in 2015, breaking up another 13 passes and recording a pair interceptions. This despite the increased responsibility of covering the opponents’ best receiver on a weekly basis, instead of playing one side of the field, following a season-ending injury to Rashean Mathis in Week 8.

“Darius earned this extension, and we are happy to reward him accordingly,” Lions general manager Bob Quinn said in a statement. “We also are pleased to have finalized this now so the team and Darius can focus on the start of training camp and preparation for the upcoming season.”

The $12.55 million average salary would rank seventh among cornerbacks, just ahead of Janoris Jenkins, who inked a five-year, $62.5 million pact with the New York Giants as a free agent this offseason.

Slay, who has one year remaining on his rookie deal, had little interested in testing the market next offseason. He made it clear from the start, he wanted to stay with the team that drafted him.

"I'm just very comfortable here," Slay said earlier this offseason. "I love my teammates. I love to be around these guys. There's good leadership here. They built me, helped me become a man, a better leader and a better player. Being around here, in this atmosphere, it's been a blessing."

Slay is the first of several players from the team’s 2013 draft class who could merit an extension with the club. Pro Bowl defensive end Ziggy Ansah remains under contract through 2017 because of the fifth-year option attached to first-round draft picks, but guard Larry Warford, defensive end Devin Taylor, running back Theo Riddick and punter Sam Martin are all set to be free agents at the end of the 2016 season.

Lions president Rod Wood wouldn’t comment on any additional negotiations, but noted the team is placing an emphasis on building through the draft.

“That’s the plan, to build our own through the draft,” Wood said. “Find good guys, extend them and keep them here. It’s a lot easier when you know the guy than signing them through free agency, when you hope you know them.”

Twitter: @justin_rogers