Several key players from the 2019 Detroit Lions found new homes in free agency. What’s in store for them in 2020 with their new teams?
The Detroit Lions’ roster churning continued this offseason, with general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia still looking for the right mix of personnel to fit their specific vision. Although they were able to sign, trade for, and draft some talented contributors, they were also forced to bid adieu to a handful of important players over the past few months.
Personality conflicts, contract disputes, age, stagnant production, and of course monetary concerns were all factors in the Lions parting ways with the incumbents on this list. Whether they were looking for upgrades at specific positions or simply younger, more cost-effective options, difficult decisions were made in the hopes of climbing out of the NFC North cellar.
Each of the players here held down a starting role at some point during their Lions tenure and could be looking at a similar job description with their new teams. So what’s in store for each of them in 2020? Let’s explore, starting with the most recognizable name of the group…
Darius Slay – Philadelphia Eagles
The highest-profile player to leave the Lions this Spring, Slay’s impressive seven-year run in Detroit came to a caustic end in March. Amid a contract-extension impasse and a highly-publicized spat with head coach Patricia, the Lions dealt him to the Philadelphia Eagles for a pair of draft picks.
In Philadelphia, Slay will be reunited with Jim Schwartz, the current defensive coordinator for the Eagles and the Lions’ head coach during Slay’s rookie season in 2013. Slay struggled mightily that year, mainly playing behind veteran cornerbacks Rashean Mathis and Chris Houston, before steadily rising to the upper ranks of NFL corners in the seasons that followed.
He joins a secondary desperate for an injection of talent and durability, one that finished with just 11 interceptions last year and that dealt with a litany of injuries to the entire unit. Despite coming off of his weakest season since his rookie campaign, Slay can bring both of those elements to the Eagles’ back end. He missed just three games and racked up 13 picks of his own with the Lions between 2017 and 2019.
The Lions are clearly taking a significant risk in proceeding without Slay, but there was seemingly no chance of repairing the fractured relationship between the two sides. Whoever gets the best of this deal will likely be in a much better position to contend for their division’s crown in 2020.