Secondary, Slay issues
The last couple of years has seen the Motor City upgrade the speed of the entire secondary, adding safeties, Tracy Walker and Will Harris, cornerback, Justin Coleman, plus drafting Amani Oruwariye. Jamal Agnew is still there as a slot coverage man plus a returner. Of course, Darius Slay is there right now at cornerback but a lot has been said about his salary demands coming into 2020.
Twitter has featured several threads, Slay himself interjected his opinion in one, about offering him less than the biggest contract in the NFL. The biggest cornerback contract right now belongs to 26-year-old Xavien Howard, whose five-year deal averages $15.05 million dollars per season and runs through 2024.
Slay balked at an idea that Sports Illustrated’s Lions Maven writer, Logan Lamorandier, put forth with a deal averaging anywhere between $15 million to $16 million in salary saying those numbers were too low.
Former Lions safety Quandre Diggs then Tweeted the following …
The above got a retweet from Slay himself. So, he may be thinking that four years and $68 million is in the right neighborhood for him to stay in Detroit, which would be an average of $17 million per season.
Looking across the defensive depth chart, obviously, health will help but the 31st ranked unit needs more than just fitness and rehabilitation. It is difficult to imagine a scenario where one player could transform this unit, either. While some depth and one dynamic weapon might catapult the offense into being elite, we have to think that the defense needs a dominant pass-rusher from the edge position or along the defensive line.
A linebacker that can cover, stop the run, and rush the passer like 2019 rookie Josh Allen from the Jacksonville Jaguars would give the defense needed playmaking ability. However, the line is weak and Slay currently has no other specific cornerback on the other side of the field despite some growing options on the roster. We would guess that two to three players just on defense are needed that are high-quality players to create a very good defense, along every level.
That does not take into account a scenario like Slay getting traded, Harrison retiring, or what happens if a starter gets dumped to save cap space. In total, the offense must find better consistency and more big plays, especially on the ground.
The defense needs to make plays, pressure the quarterback, quicker and more frequently. They need to find ways to tackle better while stopping the run and pass equally well to get the key stops that they were unable to get in 2019; despite being ahead in their first fourteen contests during the fourth quarter and fifteen overall according to the NFL website, the Detroit Lions could only muster three wins.
A lot has to go right for the Detroit Lions to make a big turnaround in 2020. They were close in most games but that’s NFL football. Saying that two players would propel the Motor City into contention is perhaps not that far off… but it feels far off.