Lions cornerback Darius Slay ducks contract questions, intends to dominate in 2019

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Jalen Ramsey and Darius Slay are two of the most talented and productive cornerbacks in the NFL. Both are also looking for contract extensions, despite two years remaining on each of their deals. It's an effort to get their pay to better align with their performance.

Where Ramsey and Slay diverge is with how they're publicly handling the situations heading into the start of training camp. 

Lions cornerback Darius Slay talks with the media after practice Thursday concerning his contract with Detroit.

Slay quietly reported to camp with the rest of his Detroit Lions teammates on Wednesday. This came after he stayed away from the team through the early portions of the offseason program, including mandatory minicamp.

Ramsey's entrance in Jacksonville involved considerably more theatrics, emerging from the back of an armored car as the vehicle's driver, comedian HaHa Davis provided an introduction via megaphone. 

“Y’all know what time it is?” Davis said. “This man’s coverage is so good he’s fixing to have his own cellphone service. The man’s so good they’re fixing to give him his own jail — called Jalen Towers — because these receivers are on 24-hour lockdown. If you check his pocket, he’s got eight Master locks in his pocket. They’re on lockdown all season. The man, the myth, Jalen Ramsey.

“It’s time to get this money, money.”

Meanwhile, Slay, who opened training camp on the non-football injury list while working his way back into football shape, batted away any questions dealing with his own contract negotiations like passes on Sunday. 

The popular response for the typically talkative Slay, "Next question." 

Did he get any promises from the team?

"Next question."

Did he consider extending your holdout into training camp?

"Next question." 

Are you disappointed you couldn't secure a new deal before the start of camp? 

Well, you get the idea. 

The only time Slay cracked was when he was asked what he thought about his current contract, which will pay him $12.55 million this year and $10 million next. He flipped the question back on the reporter, asking what they thought of it. When the reporter suggested he was probably underpaid, Slay quipped, "Everybody in the world knows."

Slay led the NFL in interceptions in 2017, earning first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl selections that year. He followed that up with another Pro Bowl campaign last season. But by average annual value, he's the 13th highest-paid player at his position. 

By skipping OTAs, which are voluntary, Slay forfeited a $250,000 workout bonus. He was fined an additional $88,000 for missing minicamp. He said he spent his extra time away from the team with his wife and kids, getting in some travel. 

But Slay also spent a lot of time around Detroit, hosting cookouts for his teammates. 

"It's a business," Slay said.  "These are my guys, these are my brothers. We're all good. We're friends outside of this work."

Whether he gets an extension or not, Slay said it won't be a distraction and he intends to dominate in 2019. 

"I play for the name on the back of my jersey, this organization and my teammates," he said. "Ain't going to stop me from what I'm going to do on the field."

He's also focused on stepping up and taking a bigger leadership role following the release and subsequent retirement of veteran safety Glover Quin

"What are my goals this year?," Slay said. "Be a better leader, be more vocal with the guys. Helping these guys be better than I am, that's my goal

 "My goal is to really get these young guys to my level or exceed. If I don't, I feel kind of like a failure. I want to make these guys great, like I am."

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers