Detroit Lions trade cornerback Darius Slay to Eagles
Allen Park — There will be no more finger-wagging at Ford Field.
After a lengthy exploration of the market, the Detroit Lions finally pulled the trigger, trading cornerback Darius Slay to the Philadelphia Eagles, Slay's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, confirmed to The Detroit News.
The Lions will receive a third- and fifth-round pick, Nos. 85 and 166 overall, in exchange for Slay, according to multiple reports, while the corner gets a three-year, $50 million extension from the Eagles, Rosenhaus said.
What wasn't even a thought a year ago quickly evolved from a possibility to a probability to a reality in a matter of months. Even after skipping out on last year's offseason program, including mandatory minicamp, while pushing for a new deal, rumblings Slay was on the block didn't truly pick up until after he publicly questioned management's decision to deal longtime teammate and friend Quandre Diggs.
"It basically say it don’t matter who you is," Slay said days after the trade. "No matter how much you put in, at the end of the day it’s a business, so that’s how I just look at it. Nobody’s safe, in my opinion."
In the days after those comments, leading up to the trade deadline, the Lions fielded calls but never came close to a deal, general manager Bob Quinn claimed.
"Not very serious at all," Quinn said when asked to characterize the trade talks at his season-ending news conference in December.
But as the team settled into this offseason, Quinn let it be known, publicly, the team was once again gauging interest in the 29-year-old corner who had named to the Pro Bowl the past three seasons.
"I know there's a lot of stuff out there," Quinn said at the scouting combine in February. "I think what we're trying to do is we're trying to explore a trade. That's not saying we're definitely trading him. We've had some conversations with other teams. Nothing to report right now. I think we're very much in the information gathering phase of this. Those conversations, from here on out, will be private between us, the teams, the representatives for Darius and Darius himself. That's kind of where it's at."
At the time, Quinn wouldn't rule out any other options, including keeping Slay on the roster to play out the final year of his contract — a four-year, $50 million extension he signed in 2016 — or signing him to another extension.
And that was Slay's stated goal. He was gunning for that next deal, likely his final chance to cash in big before Father Time started to catch up to him. After all, 4.3 speed doesn't last forever.
All indications, including tweets on the subject, pointed to Slay wanting to become the highest-paid player in NFL history at his position. And he got his wish, at least by annual average value, topping the $16.5 million per season Bryon Jones scored from the Miami Dolphins in free agency.
An extension offer of that magnitude from the Lions never materialized and it became clear Slay didn't think it was ever would. After the team agreed to terms with cornerback Desmond Trufant on Wednesday — a two-year deal reportedly worth $21 million — Slay tweeted out congratulations to his new teammate, while also expressing hope it would lead to a quick resolution regarding his own future.
"Hope that speeds up my trade process!" Slay wrote.
And it did. With contract demands too rich for Detroit's blood, they bid farewell to the star cornerback who went from a struggling rookie as a second-round pick in 2013 to one of the game's best playmakers on the outside the past six seasons.
The trade reunites Slay with Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who was still the Lions head coach when the corner was drafted in 2013.
The Lions now move forward with Trufant at one corner spot and an open competition at the other with Amani Oruwariye, the second-year man out of Penn State, the presumable front-runner for the gig.
Plus, there's always the draft, where the Lions have been consistently linked to Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah with the team's first-round pick.
Slay bids farewell to Detroit having played in 103 games over seven seasons, including 94 starts. During that stretch, he's been one of the league's most prolific ball hawks, living up to his "Big Play Slay" moniker. In total, he's broken up 104 passes and intercepted 19, including a league-best eight during an All-Pro season in 2017.
Trading Slay frees up $10.5 million in cap space for the Lions in 2020, leaving only a $2.9 million dead money hit, the remaining prorated portion of his signing bonus from the 2016 extension.