As the NFL moves closer and closer to the start of the 2020 league year, one team in the NFC North is making waves as they shop one of their top players. That team is the Detroit Lions, who seemingly are looking to deal away former All-Pro cornerback Darius Slay.
Slay, a second-round draft pick in 2013, is scheduled to enter the final year of his contract in 2020. That deal comes with $10.5 million in cash compensation and a cap hit of about $13.4 million. While those are substantial numbers, the 29-year-old Slay is reportedly looking for a new contract that would make him the highest-paid cornerback in the league, which would require a deal north of $15.1 million per year. As a result, the Lions are balking, and appear to be looking for a trade partner.
On Monday afternoon, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Lions have had conversations with multiple teams about trading Slay, suggesting that they are not close to Slay’s asking price. To make matters even more difficult, Detroit will surely ask for a significant haul of draft picks and/or player to send Slay away, even if he were intending to hold out in training camp for a new contract.
For the Packers, a possible trade for Slay would seem to be a non-starter. The team has invested high draft picks in Jaire Alexander, Kevin King, and Josh Jackson in the past two years, with Alexander and King forming the team’s starting tandem in 2019. While Jackson has yet to find a consistent role on defense, the team did add a key role player in Chandon Sullivan last offseason, who appears set for more snaps in the slot in 2020. The team’s cap situation likely leaves little room for a second massive contract extension this offseason, as the team is already working on paying defensive lineman Kenny Clark.
Still, the upshot of a potential Slay departure from Detroit is that a divisional rival would be moving on from one of their best players to gain financial flexibility and give young players more snaps. This could also end up sending both 2017 All-Pro cornerbacks on the move from NFC North teams, as the Minnesota Vikings are reportedly likely to release Xavier Rhodes. If Slay leaves the division, that makes it at least somewhat easier to throw against the Lions’ defense in 2020.