Detroit Lions: The trade market is set for Darius Slay

(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Lions now have the ability to make an educated guess as to what they’d receive in return for Darius Slay come March,18th when the new league year starts.

It seems the Detroit Lions have yet to make a firm decision in regards to their star corner Darius Slay.  Will General Manager (GM) Bob Quinn be able to agree on a contract extension with Slay, or will trading the All-Pro be the only alternative?

Darius Slay has one year left on his current deal that carries a cap hit of $13.3MM next season.  The dead cap number is a mere $2.9MM, which allows the organization plenty of flexibility if they decide to trade their franchise cornerback.

Yesterday the Jacksonville Jaguars continued to clean house by moving a lockdown corner in A.J. Bouye to the Denver Broncos for a fourth-round pick.  The return doesn’t seem very desirable to me, but it sets the market for Slay.  According to NFL insider Adam Schefter, the deal has been agreed upon but won’t be official until the 18th of March.

Slay hasn’t mixed words on his social media accounts, making it known he’s expecting to be the highest-paid corner in the NFL at the time of signing his new deal.  It’s a business decision for Slay who held out last summer but eventually reporting before the start of the regular season.

The new deal isn’t performance-based on last seasons’ numbers; it’s based on what he’s provided the Detroit Lions throughout his career, and that’s where an organization needs to be cautious.  Slay, a 30-year old corner is about to enter the back nine of his career and seeking an average of $17 million or so per season.  It’s a deal that’s risky for Detroit to sign at this point in his career.

I don’t blame Slay for wanting to cash in one more time in his career.  Similar to Le’Veon Bell, Slay appears willing to hold-out for the abundance of guaranteed money he’s sure to see from a willing buyer along with re-setting the cornerback market for his peers.  Similar to the quarterbacks, the top players are generally the highest-paid until the “next” top-ish player becomes a free agent.

Bob Quinn indeed expects more than a fourth-round choice in return for Darius Slay, right?  According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Slay earned himself a 56.4-grade last season, the worst of his career.  Don’t read to much into that, and this isn’t an excuse, but the Lions defensive front failed to provide any pass rush last season, leaving their secondary out to dry.

The Jaguars were able to get after the quarterback, and A.J. Bouye only earned himself a 58.4 overall grade from PFF.  Clearly not much better.

Taking everything into consideration, I’d expect the current trade market for Slay is settling in at a third-rounder.  If I’m Bob Quinn, I will hope to agree on an extension rather than trade Slay away for a mid-round pick. We should be salivating over the idea of having a Darius Slay/ Jeffrey Okudah corner combo.

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Also, if that doesn’t happen, the Detroit Lions will be in the mix for another 30-year-old corner in Chris Harris, who is set to hit the open market, especially with John Elway wasting no time bringing in his replacement. He recorded a 69.9-grade via PFF in 2019.