Welcome to Philadelphia, Darius Slay! The Eagles exchanged two 2020 draft picks in the 3rd and 5th round to the Detroit Lions for the CB. Slay’s new contract with Philadelphia makes him the highest-paid cornerback in the league. His new extension deal is for 3 years, $50 million with $30 million guaranteed. In this article, I’ll look at any and all effects of this trade and how it impacts the Eagles defensively.
1. What A Reunion!
Trivia question: Who was on the Lions’ coaching staff when they drafted Slay in 2013? If your answer was Jim Schwartz, you are absolutely correct! The Eagles defensive coordinator is familiar with the cornerback and knows how to fit him into the system schematically. During their initial stint together, Slay’s rookie year, Slay totaled 34 tackles and five passes defended in 13 games.
This sample size of the coach-corner tandem may not appear promising. However, perhaps this upcoming season can be different. In 2019, opponents repeatedly torched the Eagles secondary, who ranked 19th against opposing offenses. In that season, Slay accrued two interceptions, 13 passes defended and had 46 tackles in 14 games. Although that is a down year by Slay’s standards, do not be surprised if he takes a leap in Schwartz’s defense and plays this season like it’s 2017.
2. Anything Implemented In The Secondary Is A Plus
With the departure of S Malcolm Jenkins and potential departure in CB Ronald Darby, there is even more to replace in the Eagles secondary. The remaining players in the Eagles secondary from 2019 are CB Rasul Douglas, CB Craig James, CB Sidney Jones, CB Cre’ Von LeBlanc, CB Avonte Maddox and S Jalen Mills. They combined for 129 tackles, 38 passes defended, 3 interceptions and 1 sack. The group was more effective in stopping the run than the pass. With the addition of Slay and his leadership, expect him to galvanize the rest of the secondary and have them produce at a much higher level.
3. The Attraction
With this addition, you may have other free agents that may want to join the defense. With star DT Fletcher Cox and Slay leading the way, they can immediately bring the defense back to prominence. It’s also important to note that they both know and understand Schwartz’s system and so they become “On-Field Coach” type of players on the defense.
4. Helps Implement Roseman’s Plan
During the combine, the Eagles GM uttered that the plan is to essentially get younger, not overpay anybody, and provide depth in all areas of the team. Slay is an asterisk not just because of the contract, but also that he was a dire need at the cornerback position. With that disclaimer said, the contract comes with the expectations of the highest paid CB in the league. Whether it’s shutting down a side of the field consistently, staying healthy throughout the season or simply grabbing interceptions, Eagles fans will pay attention to those aspects for the next three seasons from Slay.
5. Something To Prove
The Eagles new CB, as mentioned before, had a down year this past season. Interceptions and deflections took a minimal dip from 2018 to 2019. Also, consider Slay’s issues with Lions head coach Matt Patricia. Slay has extra motivation heading into the upcoming season. He’s now playing for a winning organization in Philadelphia. Also, he’s playing for a super bowl winning coach in HC Doug Pederson. Finally, note he’s playing with a team that has playoff experience in the defense!
What a way to stick it to the former head coach in Detroit: being in the playoffs and perhaps being productive the entire way through! It doesn’t take much to make a statement against a coach who only has nine wins in two seasons. On a side note, Slay has already shown how reliable he can be with his health. It comes down to his production on the field that needs to set precedence.