Detroit Lions: Trading Darius Slay proves Bob Quinn’s looking beyond 2020

With a win-now mandate, many thought general manager Bob Quinn would make every move for 2020. But trading away Darius Slay has proven otherwise.

Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn was given a 2020 ‘playoff contention’ mandate by owner Martha Ford. While I’m personally not a fan of winning mandates given the fact if a GM is under the gun to win now, the chances are much higher they mortgage the future to do so.

Quinn did the opposite by trading Darius Slay. The Philadelphia Eagles and Lions have been reportedly in talks since the 2019 trade deadline. And Quinn finally pulled the trigger.

The Lions sent their three-time Pro-Bowl cornerback to Philly for a 2020 third (85th overall) and fifth-round (166th overall) pick … and importantly, the right to not have to mortgage the future to the tune of $16.6 million, the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL.

Slay was seeking the big pay-day after a very average 2019 season, and the Lions just weren’t going to pay him that much money. That was the issue last offseason, last season, this offseason … and when the Lions threw some money at another cornerback in Desmond Trufant – Slay seemed to get in his feelings and went to Twitter …

and …

I do think Slay was fed-up with the Lions … for playing with his money two straight offseasons. Slay has played his entire professional career in Detroit, always seemed to give everything he had on the field and I think he wanted the Lions to give him everything they could. Slay wanted his last big payday and Quinn wasn’t budging.

So Quinn finally budged on his price for the former All-Pro instead. And to be honest, considering the entire football world knew Slay returning to Detroit wasn’t something he or Bob Quinn wanted, the trade return wasn’t all that bad. Let’s not act like the Lions were trading away a top-5 cornerback.

Slay posted a passer rating against of (81.6) good for 79th in the NFL. Which is up from his (72.1) passer rating against in 2018, 29th in the NFL. For reference, the top cornerbacks in the league posted ratings like Stephon Gilmore (44.1) & Tre’Davious White (45.0). You want this number to be lower.

Slay’s best season came in 2017 where he had (26) pass deflections and (8) interceptions and was named All-Pro. In 2018 he had (17) pass deflections and (3) interceptions, and in 2019 he had (13) pass deflections and (2) interceptions. Though Slay was just one part of a deteriorating defense recently … he’s a big part of any defense he’s on.

Trading Slay gave the Lions about an extra 10.5M in cap space this season per Justin Rodgers of The Detroit News, but more importantly in Quinn’s eyes … it doesn’t handcuff the Lions in the future. So whether or not Quinn thinks there’s a good chance he’s back in 2021, he’s still making moves for the future.

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The New England model general manager Bob Quinn grew up in practiced and preached it was to always get rid of a player one year too soon than too late. Which is 10 times easier when you have job security because it opens yourself up to looking like an idiot for a season or two. But I think that’s exactly what Quinn did here.

When you boil everything down, Darius Slay to the Eagles was about long-term money. Not a 2018 offseason incident he had with head coach Matt Patricia.

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