Allen Park — Following Darius Slay's emotional reaction to the trading of friend and longtime teammate Quandre Diggs, Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia expressed empathy for his star cornerback.
"I think for me, Darius is passionate about this team, he’s passionate about his friends, he’s passionate about football," Patricia said. "So for us, I know the decision will impact everybody — players, coaches, people throughout the building — that’s certainly always the case. They’re never easy, and we try to make the best decision in the moment for the team, and we move forward. So we addressed everything as a team on Wednesday — really thought the guys have done a good job of turning the page."
Patricia acknowledged that beyond the team meeting, he hasn't met individually with Slay to address the player's grievances.
"I haven’t spoken to him individually about it," Patricia said. "I’ve spoken to the team, as far as that’s concerned, and I’ll always obviously leave all those conversations (inside the building)."
The Lions made the surprising decision to trade Diggs to the Seattle Seahawks on Tuesday, along with a future seventh-round draft pick, for the rights to Seattle's fifth-round selection in 2020.
Speaking to a group of reporters on Thursday, Slay expressed confusion about the merits of the deal, frustration with the lack of loyalty in the NFL and apathy toward remaining with the Lions through the trade deadline.
"I’m saying I’m here to play ball," Slay said. "Like I said, it don’t matter if I’m here or not. That’s what I want to do, I just want to play ball."
Slay later clarified his frustrations on Twitter, saying he loved the state of Michigan and he would continue to give everything he has on the field for the fans.
The Lions have lost three straight and just traded starting safety Quandre Diggs. Lose another and the wheels might come off the bus. Justin Rogers, The Detroit News
Asked if there was concern Slay's comments might represent the larger opinion of the locker room, Patricia did his best to shift his focus to the Lions' upcoming game with the New York Giants.
"We’re just going to go off on what we’re doing, trying to prepare to get ready to go, and that preparation so far has been good," he said. "We've got a big game with the Giants. That’s really what our focus is, and that’s what we have to do. We’re talking about the Giants, we’re talking about how we got to play the game and that’s probably the most important thing for us. This stuff happens, and everybody, they just got to move on and go win, and that’s what we’re trying to do."
The NFL trade deadline is next week. Slay's repeated non-committal responses about wanting to stay in Detroit sparked social media rumblings he wants out, despite that never being said or implied.
Patricia was asked if he expected Slay to still be a part of the team after the deadline.
"I mean, we always anticipate everybody being here, you know?" Patricia said. "We’re just going to go and work hard and do everything we can to get better."