The Eagles on Thursday morning went a long way toward answering their massive cornerback question when they acquired one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL and signed him to a massive new contract.
Three-time Pro Bowler Darius Slay, who has been campaigning to get out of Detroit, is now an Eagle. The trade was first reported by ESPN.
The Eagles shipped 2020 third- and fifth-round picks to the Lions for Slay, who turned 29 on New Year’s Day. The Eagles traded their own picks, Nos. 85 and 166, not their compensatory picks.
NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Dave Zangaro reports that Slay’s new deal is worth $50 million over three years, including $30 million in guarantees.
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His average of $16.7 million per year makes Slay the highest-paid cornerback in NFL history, just ahead of Byron Jones, whose new deal with the Dolphins averages $16.5 million over five years.
He’s the fourth-highest-paid player on the Eagles, behind Carson Wentz ($32 million average), Lane Johnson ($18 million average) and Fletcher Cox ($17.1 million average).
Slay was originally a second-round pick out of Mississippi State in 2013, when the Lions' head coach was current Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. He has 19 interceptions since 2014. No Eagle cornerback has more than six interceptions during that same span.
Slay led the NFL with eight interceptions and 26 pass knockdowns during his all-pro 2017 season. He’s started 90 of a possible 96 games since 2014 and gives the Eagles their first legitimate star cornerback since Asante Samuel a decade ago.
After the Lions signed free agent cornerback Desmond Trufant on Wednesday, it seemed like a matter of time before the they shipped Slay.
The Eagles, desperate for play-making cornerbacks, were quiet in the first few days of free agency, while the top corners found new hopes, as NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Dave Zangaro wrote.
But in Slay, the Eagles get a cornerback who might be a better option than any of the free agents on the market.
He sat out the Lions’ minicamps last offseason to protest the lack of a new contract but returned for training camp and played all 16 games, with 46 tackles, 13 pass knockdowns and two interceptions.
Slay immediately answers the Eagles’ biggest offseason need. The team resigned Jalen Mills, but he’s expected to play safety moving forward. The only other corners on the roster are Avonte Maddox, Cre’von LeBlanc, Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones.
The Eagles have had major cornerback issues for years. Some 15 different corners have started at least one game since Doug Pederson became head coach in 2016. The team in 2017 drafted Jones in the second round and Douglas in the third but by the end of last season neither was even in Jim Schwartz’s defensive rotation.
The Eagles allowed an NFL-high eight touchdown passes of 40 yards or more last year and 15 overall pass plays of at least 40 yards.
Much of the Eagles’ offseason so far has been devoted to a massive secondary restructure.
Since free agency began on Monday, the Eagles have cut ties with three-time Pro Bowl safety Malcolm Jenkins, re-signed Mills to a one-year deal, re-signed safety Rodney McLeod to a two-year deal and now locked up Slay through 2022.
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