The team agreed to acquire cornerback Darius Slay in a trade with the Lions on Thursday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The Eagles will send third- and fifth-round picks to the Lions in exchange for Slay.
The picks will be the team’s original selections in each round (No. 85, No. 166), according to Philly Voice’s Jimmy Kempski. The Eagles still have a compensatory third-round pick (No. 103) and a fifth-round pick (No. 168) acquired in a trade with the New England Patriots.
The Eagles will also give Slay a new contract, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The deal will make him among the top-paid cornerbacks in the league.
The deal is for three years and $50 million with $30 million in guaranteed money, per Schefter. The $16.7 million annual mark makes Slay the league’s highest-paid cornerback on a yearly basis.
Slay, who turned 29 in January, is coming off his third consecutive Pro Bowl season. He was named a first-team All-Pro in 2017 after co-leading the league with eight interceptions that season.
Slay is a massive upgrade for the Eagles at the cornerback position. He has impressive coverage skills and can travel with an opposing team’s top receiver.
The Eagles have lacked a consistent playmaking presence at cornerback since the days of Asante Samuel (2008-11). Slay has top-notch playmaking skills at the position, collecting 19 interceptions over the past six seasons. During that span, he has intercepted at least two passes per season.
Slay battled a hamstring injury throughout last season.
While he missed two games, the veteran cornerback still produced 46 tackles, 13 pass breakups and two interceptions. That said, Slay received all-around poor marks from Pro Football Focus for his performance.
Here are three thoughts on the move:
1. Did the Eagles pay too much for Slay? The Eagles now have a top cornerback but only eight draft picks. They will also use a large chunk of cap space to house Slay. Some would argue the team could have just signed Desmond Trufant or Prince Amukamara for less money and kept their picks. The three-year deal is monstrous, but the team can get out of it after two seasons. The Eagles will need to hope that Slay isn’t on the decline.
2. Was this the fallback plan? The Eagles were heavily involved in the Byron Jones sweepstakes. The team eventually pivoted after the front office realized Jones was going to price out of its range. He ended up signing a five-year, $82.5 million deal with the Dolphins. Now, the Eagles have acquired Slay, who is older and cost the team trade compensation, instead of signing Jones. Slay won’t cost as much as Jones but his annual salary will be close enough to make some uncomfortable.
3. There’s still work to be done in the secondary. With Slay on board, the Eagles can now focus on moving former starting cornerback Jalen Mills to safety alongside Rodney McLeod. The team can also shift its cornerback attention to the draft and look to partner Slay with an early-round round rookie. The Eagles should also look for a veteran safety to add to the bunch, as Jim Schwartz employs three safeties regularly.
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