HOWIE SLAYS NAYSAYERS
Eagles trade for Detroit Lions cornerback Darius Slay, a player with a nose for the football
By Matt Santoleri
All of offseason Eagles fans have been playing it over in their heads on how Philly would address the glaring holes on its roster.
Dreams of bringing in a big-ticket Free Agents like Byron Jones and Amari Cooper from their hated rival Dallas Cowboys took over most of the conversation. As the legal tampering period commenced, and the weeks leading up to it, the Eagles seemed destined to land Jones to be that No.1 cornerback the team has sorely missed for so long.
The fit seemed natural and after most reporters had it narrowed down to Las Vegas and Philadelphia, the Miami Dolphins and their massive amount of cap space came through to crash the party.
Jones just couldn’t help but accept the five-year, $82.5 million dollar deal that included $57 million guaranteed, with $40 million of it coming in first two years. Left at the alter on the Jones deal wasn’t the only blow as ex Carolina Panther No.1 corner James Bradberry inked an impressive three-year, $45 million deal with $32 million guaranteed from the New York Giants and ex Denver Broncos Corner Chris Harris Jr opted to stay in the AFC West and go to the Los Angeles Chargers on a deal worth $20.25 million over two years.
All of a sudden things looked bleak for the Eagles addressing this top need in the secondary in Free Agency, which after declining fan favorite and always dependable safety Malcom Jenkins option and deciding to not renegotiate, turned everyone’s attention to the draft and secondary market. That all changed late Wednesday night.
The Detroit Lions were always stuck in a hard place with their starting cornerback Darius Slay wanting a new deal that the Lions just weren’t in a position to give him. The trade rumors have swirled for months now trying to predict where he would land, and who would be the team giving him the contract he was seeking.
After the Lions signed newly released CB Desmond Trufant who has dealt with some injury issues as of late but still is considered a solid No.1 guy, the writing was on the wall that Slay would be dealt sooner rather than later.
Howie may have missed on the chance to bring in Jones, but he was not going to leave this offseason empty handed and so for the Eagles third and fifth round pick, the latter they received in the Michael Bennet trade, Slay is now an Eagle.
The other shoe dropped too with the contract he was seeking, as the Eagles signed him to a three-year, $50 million extension that includes $30 million guaranteed.
This puts his per year salary just a tick over Jones' number of $16.5 mil with one coming in at $16.67, but no front loaded $40 million, $27 million less in guaranteed money, and less years which would have this contract expire when Slay, a year and a half older than Jones, turns 32.
The same year the Jones contract would expire for Miami if they decide to keep him for the duration of the deal.
Stings to lose out on draft compensation but when you still have a third compensatory pick for Foles leaving last season this an absolutely a home run trade and signing for Howie and the Eagles in my opinion.
When you rate the two based on their past performances it looks even better for the Eagles going the Slay route over Jones. Jones is younger than Slay and is versatile with some reps at safety under his belt, but the production is just not comparable. In 79 total games Jones has two career interceptions and 43 passes defensed.
In 103 career games, all of them in the on an island role at outside corner that DC Jim Schwartz is known for leaving his guys in, Slay has 19 interceptions and 103 passes defended. In a sort of down year last year Slay matched Jones career interceptions with 2 playing in only 14 games all while being tasked with following the other team’s best receiver all over the field.
Jones is a very good young corner in this league but the trait people most associate with him is his tackling ability and other teams shying away from targeting him. Eagles fans won’t ever forget the name of Nnamdi Asomugha who was touted for having similar abilities and those things just never translated to Philly.
I’d rather have the guy who has a proven track record of getting the ball back to Carson and the offense they hope teams continue to throw somewhere else. The other part of this deal that should excite Eagles fans is his one-on-one numbers against the best WR in the NFC East, Amari Cooper, who just signed a huge extension with the Dallas Cowboys. They’ve faced off twice in their careers with Slay covering him for 20 of his 27 routes in 2015 and limiting him to 0 catches on three targets.
Then they matched up last year with Slay shadowing him on 26 of his 30 routes and holding him to 3 catches on 8 targets a modest 38 yards with 0 TD’s. The Cowboys are undoubtedly the stiffest competition in the Eagles way back to another NFC East crown and they just secured a player who has a proven history of eliminating their number one threat.
Eagles fans should be overjoyed at this pick up and something tells me Howie isn’t done yet!