The former Lion brings CB1 value to a team desperate for secondary help.

The Eagles announced this morning that they have traded two 2020 draft picks to the Detroit Lions for CB Darius Slay. The 29-year-old defensive backfills an enormous need for the Eagles.

The trade cost Philadelphia 3rd and 5th round picks (No. 85 and No. 166 overall) in the upcoming draft and required a contract extension. Slay’s new deal with the Eagles is for 3 years, $50 million, with $30 million of that guaranteed.

Slay has been graded 77+ in 4 of his past 5 seasons, but ranked only 83rd among CBs in 2019.

The veteran is a slight risk, high reward option — he is a three-time Pro Bowler who led the league in 2017 with 8 interceptions.

Yet, his 2019 statistical drop off looked more like his rookie season than the years that made him a top tier cornerback, and nearly half of his 19 career interceptions were in his single All-Pro season. He is a top 50 all-time and top 10 active pass deflector who lacks the interception rate that many tier 1 CBs present. Only Chris Harris and Casey Hayward paced his total snaps played AND defensive rating from 2014 to 2018, yet he has gradually declined every year since 2016. Slight risk, high reward.

From @JeffRatcliffe at PFF, Slay’s shadows were held below 90 yards, hauling in just one touchdown. Newly extended Amari Cooper is among such receivers, catching 3 of 6 targets for just 38 yards in his sole matchup against Detroit.

Photo: @JeffRatcliffe

The trade comes after the Eagles extended Jalen Mills to a $4 million/1 year deal with an added $1 million in incentives. The team has suggested they will move Mills to Safety in the wake of Malcolm Jenkins’ departure, leaving Slay to pair with the likes of Rasul Douglas, Sidney Jones, Cre’Von LeBlanc, and Avonte Maddox.

For those playing the comparison game, Byron Jones’ deal with the Dolphins comes out to 5 years, $82.5 million, with $57 million guaranteed, $40 million of that in the first two years. Miami skillfully front-loaded the contract, recognizing the historical drop off cornerbacks see when they hit 30 years. Jones will make an average of $16.5m per year, just shy of Slay’s $16.6m deal. The Eagles benefit from a higher regarded player for two fewer years of financial commitment, where the Dolphins get a younger player (27 to 29) for longer, and on a cheaper deal (albeit barely).

The Eagles’ first day of free agency was quiet, only adding an elite NT to a record-setting deal, so it was refreshing to see Howie Roseman finally back in midseason form. The move demonstrates a commitment to immediately improving a position of need while rolling the dice slightly on a player who, for all of his career excellence, could continue to lose his edge.

Regardless of on the field production, the Eagles are landing a quality person in Darius Slay. Detroit was adamant about ensuring he received a strong contract to whichever team they traded with, demonstrating how well-regarded he is.

For a secondary thirsty for leadership after Jenkins’ reunion with New Orleans, Slay’s reunion with Jim Schwartz could be the rudder to steer the ship.
Best of all, the Eagles hold on to both their first and second-round picks and have plenty of draft stock left in the arsenal.

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