Darius Slay wants elite money, but is he still a top 10 cornerback?

Detroit Lions’ Darius Slay has recently hinted that he wants to be the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL, but is he still one of the games’ best at the position?

The Detroit Lions find themselves in a familiar situation. One of their best players is nearing the end of his contract in Detroit and is looking for the Motor City casino jackpot or else he’s gone.

According to reports, and well … himself via Twitter. Darius Slay wants to be the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL … and there’s no shame in that. Slay has had a great career and if you can get it, by all means, go get it. You are worth what someone is willing to pay you and there just might be a general manager willing to give in to Slay’s demands.

To a certain extent, it is just how the business works when you’re one of the best at your position. When your contract is up you’re going to set the market until the next elite cornerback is ready to get paid.

But is Darius Slay still one of the best at his position? By tier’s, I’ll give you my top cornerbacks in the NFL right now.

Elite

Stephon Gilmore, 29, NE – Was no question the best cornerback in the NFL this season. Matter of fact, he was the defensive player of the year in 2019.

Marshon Lattimore, 23, NO – No one has more passes defended in the past two years than Lattimore. 50 percent completion against, tied for best on this list.

Marcus Peters, 27, BAL – 2nd-Team All-Pro. One of the best ballhawk DBs in the NFL. Tied for second in the NFL with five INTs. He was elite for both the Rams and Ravens in 2019.

Richard Sherman, 31, SF – 2nd-Team All-Pro. Maybe the best coverage corner in the league. Proved himself top 5 again in 2019. PFF’s #1 ranked CB.

Tre’Davious White, 25, BUF- 1st-Team All-Pro. Led the NFL in INTs with six. The other tie for best completion percentage against at 50 percent.

Marlon Humphrey, 23, BAL – All-Pro team. Three INTs, 14 PDs … some of the best raw skills in the NFL.

Quinton Dunbar, 27, WAS – Was playing like the best CB in the league before the injury. Four INTs in only 11 games. PFF’s third overall ranked CB.

Jalen Ramsey, 25, LAR – Was debating putting him in the 2nd tier. But it would take more than one down year with a mid-season trade for that. He was just the best in the league for the previous few seasons.

2nd Tier

Casey Hayward, 30, LAC – In my opinion, the most underrated corner in the NFL. And I probably just did him a disservice again by not putting him in the elite tier.

Byron Jones, 27, DAL – Like Richard Sherman, Jones is a coverage specialist than won’t show up on the stat sheet often. But he is elite at what he does. Coverage, tackling and playing the run as well as a CB.

Steven Nelson, 27, PIT – 50 percent completion against. 65.8 passer rating against. Zero touchdowns against. Underrated.

Darius Slay, 29, DET – This is a Lions blog, so a short summary isn’t going to do much. Read more below.

Adoree’ Jackson, 24, TEN- Allowed only one TD all season and is one of the brightest young CB in the game. Led the Titans defense to the AFC Championship game.

Chris Harris Jr., 30, DEN – Didn’t have a great 2019, even got moved inside. But a great track record. I’d rather have Slay though.

Jaire Alexander, 23, GB Tied for fourth in the NFL in PD’s with 17. Just turned 23 years old.

So I have Slay right around 12th overall, being nice. Despite making the Pro-Bowl in 2018 and 2019, he hasn’t been playing at a top-10 level. Slay has five interceptions in the past two seasons after eight in 2017 alone. 30 pass deflections in the past two seasons after 26 in 2017 alone.

I wouldn’t be so quick to put all the blame on Lions head coach Matt Patricia and his schemes. While yes, Detroit has been below average on defense the past two seasons, ranked 16th and 26th overall. They weren’t any good on defense in Slay’s best season in 2017 either, ranked 21st. Darius Slay excels in man-coverage, a staple in Patricia’s defense.

And before you go blaming it specifically on QB pressure, in 2017 the Lions had a total of 35 sacks compared to 43 in 2018 and 28 in 2019.

Slay has been great for the Lions, but the Lions shouldn’t be in the business have paying top dollar for previous performances. This is more about the contract demands than the player. If you’re going to continue to pay the ‘Detroit-Tax’ you’re never going to be on a level-playing field. Winning in the NFL makes you a destination.

In New England where general manager Bob Quinn cut his teeth in the NFL. They banked on the philosophy that it’s always better to cut a player a year to early than a year to late.

Next: The Detroit Lions top 10 plays of the past decade

Darius Slay is closer to top 15 than top 5 in the league. And it would be fitting for the Same Old Lions to break the bank for an aging cornerback for what he’s done in the past and not for what he’ll do in the future.

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