On Feb. 17, reports of the Detroit Lions looking to trade Darius Slay began to surface. With the trade would come a new contract for Slay that is north of $15 million. The 28-year-old cornerback has played for the Lions his whole career, but seems to be moving on once free agency begins. Slay has made a name for himself in the past few seasons, tallying up 3 Pro Bowls and an All-Pro.
In the past three seasons, he’s picked up 13 interceptions and has PFF grades of 80.6 in 2017, and 75.0 in 2018. This past season, Slay had an off-year, only getting a score of 56.4. With that in mind, the Lions do not want to pay him $13.4 million this upcoming season, which would make him the 9th highest paid cornerback in the league.
With the All-Pro turning 29 just a little over a month ago to go along with an off-year in his career, the fact that next season is his final season under contract makes his value less than what most would expect. Even with that in mind, Darius Slay is still a wanted player in the league and many teams are looking to fill a void they have with him.
Disclaimer: The list below is not a ranking of best fits or the most likely destinations that Darius Slay might go, but simply just five teams to look out for.
Bonus: Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles barely missed this list because of how much they need a cornerback, but they will be interested in a player like Slay, so they get a quick mention. Last season, the Eagles pass defense was ranked 22nd in the league, and with that came much miscommunication and blown coverages.
The Eagles are going to lose a slot corner in Jalen Mills, who has excelled in the slot position the past few seasons. Because of his contract being up, Mills will be a big target for teams this off-season. The rest of the Eagles’ secondary is young and inexperienced, with the oldest player being only 26 years old.
Adding a veteran like Darius Slay will give the Eagles an above-average cornerback and a mentor for the young players. Slay has the experience that the Eagles secondary is missing and desperately needs.
#5: Denver Broncos
The Broncos are known for having one of the most consistently dominant defenses this past decade, with players like Von Miller, Aqib Talib, and Chris Harris Jr. But now, after trading Aqib Talib last offseason, Harris needs another guy to help him in the secondary. The former All-Pro is now 30 years old and needs a buddy, who could eventually be his successor.
Slay can also ease into the mentor/veteran role more slowly if he gets traded to the Broncos. He could eventually replace Chris Harris Jr. and help develop the Broncos’ young corners.
#4: Houston Texans
The Texans are the first and only playoff team from last season on this list. They were ranked the 29th worst pass defense in the NFL, and while their offense was dominant for the most part this past season, the team got held back by their defense.
The Texans’ defense ranked 28th in yardage allowed, and it wasn’t all from passing yards. The whole defense was bad, and part of that was the loss of Jadeveon Clowney in a trade to Seattle, and J.J. Watt being injured for most of the year.
With Slay being a decent #1 cornerback, and possibly the addition of a second corner in free agency, the Texans have a pretty good secondary. Gareon Conley is still developing into a solid corner but still isn’t ready to take over. The addition of Darius Slay wouldn’t fix all of the Texans’ holes on defense, but would be a good start.
#3: Oakland Raiders
The Raiders lost Gareon Conley last season, but drafted Trayvon Mullen with the 40th pick overall in last season’s draft. In his rookie season, Mullen started 10 games and had a PFF grade of 64.6. He showed great potential but still could use a mentor as he develops into a #1 corner.
Detroit’s best corner is also a good fit for the Raiders and their new defensive scheme, which was ranked the 25th worst pass defense and allowed a league-ranked 14th most yards last season.Las Vegas is still in a rebuilding phase, but they want to win now.
The Raiders have many highly-talented young players like Clelin Ferrell, Johnathan Abram, and Maurice Hurst. LV also has veterans like Jonathan Hankins and LaMarcus Joyner to compliment Darius Slay, so a mix of veterans and young talents could make this defense one to look out for.
#2: Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins are a team that can have a very interesting offseason if they play it right. They have the most cap space in the league with $93.7 million, and have a need for every position (for the most part). Miami might see their defense as a good place to start their rebuild, but more specifically their secondary.
The Dolphins struggled last year in defending the pass, so Darius Slay would be a good fit. They also have All-Pro corner Xavien Howard, who was injured for most of the season last year.
He and Slay could become a formidable cornerback tandem that would give opposing offenses immense trouble on Sundays. Thus, adding Darius Slay would be just one small puzzle piece that could help the Dolphins become a decent team next season.
#1: New York Giants
The final team fit for Darius Slay would be the New York Giants, who had secondary issues last season. Like the rest of the teams on this list (except the Broncos), Big Blue ranked in the bottom ten when it came to passing yards allowed.
The Giants have many young talented cornerbacks in Grant Haley, Deandre Baker, and Julian Love, but their biggest problem was inexperience. Last season, four out of their six cornerbacks were rookies, and the other two (Grant Haley and Antonio Hamilton) are second and third-year players. Adding Darius Slay (like I’ve said before) will add much-needed leadership and talent to that young secondary.