NFL rumors: Eagles nearing trade for Lions’ Darius Slay? Why contract extension could make or break deal

The Eagles may still land a No. 1 cornerback during free agency.

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The team is discussing the framework of a three-year contract extension with Lions cornerback Darius Slay as part of a potential trade with Detroit, according to ESPN’s Josina Anderson.

Given Slay’s outspoken desire for a contract extension and raise over the past few months, the extension talks may be just as vital to a potential swap as the actual trade negotiations with the Lions.

Slay has made it clear that he wants out of Detroit.

Following Wednesday’s report of former Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant signing with the Lions, Slay quote tweeted an ESPN report and wrote “Congrats to my guy!!!! Hope that speeds up my trade process!!”

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 would certainly be an upgrade for the Eagles. The veteran defensive back would immediately become the Eagles’ top cornerback upon arrival. He has impressive coverage skills and can travel with an opposing team’s top receiver.

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Slay is set to make $10 million in base salary on the final year of his deal and he will undoubtedly want a significant raise to stay in Philadelphia for the long haul. Former Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones reset the market at the position by agreeing to a five-year, 82.5 million contract with the Dolphins on Tuesday.

Jones will average $16.5 million per season. Slay, who has said he wants to be paid among the league’s top cornerbacks, is likely to seek a deal that averages near that sum.

That said, due to his age and desire to get out of Detroit, he will probably need to settle for a deal that averages out similarly to new Bengals cornerback Trae Waynes’ $14 million annual mark. As of Wednesday, only seven cornerbacks are scheduled to make $14 million or more annually in the NFL.

The Eagles were heavily involved in the Jones sweepstakes but eventually relented when his price tag got too high. Now, the team may need to send draft compensation to the Lions and negotiate a similarly high-priced contract to acquire Slay.

While the circumstances probably aren’t ideal, trading for Slay would land the Eagles a top-flight cornerback after years of mediocre play at the position. Slay would be a massive upgrade over Ronald Darby, who is likely to leave in free agency.

With Slay on board, the Eagles could focus on moving former starting cornerback Jalen Mills to safety alongside Rodney McLeod. The Eagles could then shift their cornerback attention to the draft and look to partner Slay with an early-round round rookie.

The Eagles have 10 draft picks heading into the selection process. Obviously, one (or more) of those picks will probably be shipped to Detroit in exchange for Slay. The Eagles could use a remaining Day 2 pick to reinforce the cornerback position, knowing that the team has a long-term No. 1 cornerback in Slay.

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Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter: @Mike_E_Kaye. Find on Facebook.

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