Determining Darius Slay’s value: Pay him or trade him?

Darius Slay, Detroit Lions (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Darius Slay, Detroit Lions (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) /
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Detroit Lions secondary
(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

Keeping Slay, what happens?

While keeping Darius Slay for a few more years may prove fruitful for winning right away, if he were to experience the typical decline of a skilled player past 29, signing him long-term to a big deal would likely inhibit the acquisition of other players who could adequately back him up.

Therein lies the biggest risk for Bob Quinn and the Detroit Lions, what do you do if you agree to sign Darius Slay to a four-year, $68 million dollar deal (suggested by Quandre Diggs) and he can’t play like we’ve seen him play most of his career? The guaranteed money alone would likely keep him on the roster for two or three years just to get his dead cap figure down to a manageable amount before being able to cut him.

That’s the downside. The upside would be limited due to his high salary. Slay won’t get better at this point in his career, all he can hope for is to maintain his game for a few years, work hard, and cross his fingers that he can stay healthy.

A positive, though, is fan support, which would be high for a player as popular as Darius Slay. Other than quarterback Matthew Stafford, he is easily the biggest face of the franchise. This also might change some perceptions that Detroit doesn’t have a great ‘culture’ if they pay and retain a proven star player, perhaps even beyond his best years.

Keeping him would also signal a push to win now, presumably that you talked Slay into believing that you can win now. Although, using a large chunk of the available cap on a new deal and his signing bonus probably keeps the Lions from signing too many other players.