The Detroit Lions recently signed former first-round pick cornerback, Desmond Trufant. It was the critical addition Bob Quinn needed before comfortably moving Darius Slay out of town.
It’s a relationship that’s been frayed from the get-go. Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia and star corner Darius Slay haven’t seen eye to eye since Patricia’s arrival. It’s a relationship that had no hope of restoration moving forward.
By now we’ve all seen the reports, I’m not going to go over it again in this article. Let’s leave it at this; a trade needed to happen. Slay had no interest in playing for Patricia, and quite frankly, I assume Patricia was excited to move Slay out of his locker room.
The problem with trading one of the leagues’ best corners is, who do you replace that talent with? Last season the Lions maintained one of the worst NFL team defenses off all-time. Now, imagine trading the best cover corner from that group. Yikes.
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Detroit is undoubtedly eyeing Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah as their first-round draft choice in the upcoming NFL Draft, that is if Chase Young is indeed off the board. Okudah is a ‘plug and play’ corner, but it would have been phenomenal to have the ability to roll out Slay with Okudah every week, but Desmond Trufant is a perfect consolation prize for Detroit.
The Detroit Lions signed Trufant to a two-year $21 million deal, with $14 million guaranteed. Trufant is a former first-round choice (2013) of the Atlanta Falcons, where he’d spent his entire seven-year career. Last season, a broken arm and toe injury left him to just nine games. The Falcons, up against the cap, decided to part ways with the former pro bowl corner along with star runner Davonte Freeman.
Oddly enough, Trufant was selected with the 22nd overall pick in the ’13 draft, Slay was taken the same year but in the second round with the 36th overall pick.
Last season in Detroit, according to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Slay was awarded a lackluster overall grade of 56.4 last season. Trufant received a respectable grade of 70.3. In nine games, Trufant reeled in a whopping 4 interceptions, broke up 2 passes, recorded 17 tackles, but allowed 5 touchdown receptions on just 23 receptions.
That’s just way too many touchdowns conceded for a number one corner. Trufant did allow a career-high 67.6 completion percentage to go with a mountainous 17 yards per reception, again, to high for a premier corner. Generally, Trufant has maintained a sub-60 percent completion percentage on his targets throughout his career.
Is Trufant starting to decline? Are the Falcons moving on at the right time?
Trufant’s best all-around years were his first two. Since then, he’s settled in as an average number one NFL corner regularly grading out around the mid-70s with a few interceptions. In seven seasons, Trufant has recorded 13 career interceptions and has yielded 25 touchdowns. In comparison, Slay has 19 interceptions and 27 touchdowns against in seven years of work.
Trufant turns 30-years old in September. With the Philadelphia Eagles making Slay the highest-paid corner in the league, a three-year, $50-million extension, locking him up for the next four seasons.
Bringing in Trufant for two years at $10.5-million per season may prove to be a bargain. It’s a deal that is worth the risk, plus it has allowed Bob Quinn to spend the savings elsewhere.