Darius Slay rumors: Should Eagles make a trade?

Eliot Shorr-Parks
February 18, 2020 - 8:24 am

The Eagles are expected to be very active this offseason at cornerback, not only exploring all options in both free agency and the NFL Draft, but on other team’s rosters as well. 

An intriguing name made its way onto the market Monday when ESPN reported that the Detroit Lions have spoken with multiple teams about a deal for cornerback Darius Slay. An important note in the report is that any team that makes a deal for Slay will have to compensate him with a new deal in addition to giving up some serious value to the Lions. 

Slay, 29-years old, is likely going to want a deal close to the top of the market at his position. If the Eagles were to make a move for Slay, and then sign him to a new deal, a contract that would put him roughly in the time top (prior to the start of free agency) would be a five-year deal worth around $70 million with around $20 million guaranteed. The cap hit would likely average around $13 million, but would likely be low in the first year, considering how Roseman usually structures his contracts. 

Considering the Eagles are currently projected to have around $40 million in cap space, they could certainly afford to sign Slay and still have money left over to make multiple other moves.

Slay is arguably more deserving of a big-time deal than some of the other top cornerbacks on the market, considering he has a long track record of not only high-level play, but of making big-time plays. Slay has had at least two interceptions each of the last six seasons, and has averaged 17 pass breakups per season since becoming a starter in 2014. Slay allowed only three touchdowns in 93 targets last season, according to Pro Football Reference. 

The concern would be Slay’s age. The cornerback has played 16 games only three times in his career, and although he has never missed significant time, he has gone from 16 games in 2017, to 15 in 2018 to 14 in 2019. That isn’t a great trend for an older player that will be 30-plus years old after the first-year of the contract. 

What it will cost to land Slay in a trade is unknown, but the Lions might have a hard time landing anything of value. To start, there has to be a big market for Slay. Then, among those teams, multiple teams have to be both willing to pay Slay a big deal and Slay has to want to go there, considering he will be agreeing to a contract extension. Chances are, as good as Slay is, the line of teams won’t be that long. 

With the Eagles projected to have seven picks in the first four rounds, they have more than enough ammunition to get a deal done, especially with two third-round picks and three fourth-round picks. 

The Eagles are in a tough spot at cornerback, as both Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby as free agents, and they don’t have a player they trust on the roster ready to take over for either. That means they are going to have to either spend big at the position or use a first-or-second round draft pick on a corner. They might even have to do both. 

Signing Slay, and dealing away a third-round pick in the process, would be a nice combination of both. Considering the Eagles’ need for youth on offense, using cap space — and a mid-round pick — on a quality veteran like Slay would be a solid move by the team. 

You can reach Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at esp@94wip.com!