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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Slay might be walking away
(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) /


To sum up, the choice of whether or not to risk signing a 29-year-old cornerback to a long-term deal isn’t merely about being good to a member of the team who has been consistent and committed. That would be a no-brainer, even for a team without a playoff win since the Reagan Administration.

Any future contract involves paying for future services and both parties have to agree on what services will be performed but also what the value of those services is. Bob Quinn, a conservative guy by all accounts, is not wrong to fear a huge free-agent deal for an aging player. Darius Slay is not wrong to try to maximize his income and do the very best for his family, either.

Both can be true without them agreeing about what fair means specifically. Both men want to win right now but their long-term goals diverge after that, not that Quinn doesn’t want his players to do well monetarily or to think that they’ve been treated fairly by the organization. Nor does Darius Slay wish bad things upon the franchise that he has been a part of for the better part of a decade and that has given him a great opportunity to earn a substantial living.

We’ve seen these situations play out and while there is sure to be bad feelings by some fans if Slay leaves or doesn’t get the top pay he deserves by staying, ultimately the Detroit Lions probably aren’t in the situation to risk giving him what he wants in compensation. While it may make their secondary worse in the short run, the cap space will allow them to address multiple other needs for their 31st ranked defense. Whether or not they sign Slay is probably a better answer to where they are really at as a team than any other barometer.

If Quinn signs Slay to a deal near what he is asking, the likely outcome is a year or two of good play followed by more than a year of steadily declining play or possibly needing to shift Slay to another position as he becomes less capable as a cornerback. However, it would reinforce the view that they think that they can win and are not in a rebuild mode.

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It is probably best for the Detroit Lions to pull off the band-aid and deal with the pain of replacing Darius Slay. The Lions can get a pick to help the team, and by the time he would be a high-priced formerly great cornerback, they could have a young cover guy in place. That will be a tough pill for some fans to swallow but the NFL is, after all, a business.