If Darius Slay demands top cornerback money, the Detroit Lions should trade him

Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images
Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images /

The Detroit Lions and Darius Slay are in contract talks for the second straight year, but will the former All-Pro be worth the asking price?

The relationship between the Detroit Lions and cornerback Darius Slay is one that’s been needing a sit down for some time now. Reports are now out saying the two sides are negotiating a new deal.

I’m surprised it took this long to get to the fork in the road. After a rocky 2019 between the two sides, it’s time to see what finally comes out the other end.

Remember, Slay was already on the trade market prior to the 2019 trade deadline after public displays of displeasure with the Quandre Diggs trade and defensive scheme.

While Slay himself says all the right things, including at this year’s Pro Bowl when he said this, per MLIVE.com …

"“If they give me a contract, I’ll be blessed and fortunate for it. Like I say, I always wanted to retire as a Detroit Lion. But if it don’t happen, it’s cool. I’ll be all right. If I don’t, someone will be getting a great player.”"

But actions speak louder than words and it’s my opinion that he wouldn’t mind a fresh start elsewhere. Same with the Lions if he asks for more than they’re are comfortable spending on a 30+ year old cornerback. According to a tweet by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler …

Notice Fowler said ‘expectation’. I don’t think the Lions expect to get a deal done. This report could very well be the Lions floating information out there so that general managers can include the possibility of Slay being on the market while they are currently trying to put together their 2020 game-plans.

All the coach speak and opinions on whether he wants to be here is one thing though, when it comes down to it, only one thing should matter: Is Slay worth top cornerback money?

My answer is no. Slay, 29, has seen his play decline since his 2017 All-Pro season when he had eight interceptions and 26 pass deflections. He has followed that up with;

  • 2018: 3 INTs, 17 PDs
  • 2019: 2 INTs, 13 PDs

This past season there were also multiple games where Slay was just getting burned while blanketing the opposing number one wide receivers.

  • Week 1 vs. Larry Fitzgerald for 113 yards
  • Week 2 vs. Keenan Allen for 98 yards
  • Week 12 vs. Terry McLaurin for 72 yards
  • Week 13 vs. Allen Robinson for 86 yards
  • Week 14 vs. Stefon Diggs for 92 yards
  • Week 17 vs. Davante Adams for 93 yards

That’s six out of 14 games played, and despite being a Pro-Bowler, Slay wasn’t especially good in most of the other games either. Yet, I think he should have a good season or two left in him, but how good and how much are they going to cost?

If you look at the top-10 cornerbacks by ‘average salary’, there’s only one player that is north of the age of 30, Josh Norman, who just had a horrendous season and is now a cut-candidate in Washington. Slay turns 30 this year and hasn’t had a top-10 season in two years.

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If Darius Slay asks for top-10 money ($13M+/year), I’m trading him if I’m the Detroit Lions. And if camp Slay asks for more than two years extension at top-15 money ($10M+/year through 2022), I’m trading him away too.