The Detroit Lions and Darius Slay have been in contract negotiations for a while now, as Slay's contract is up after the 2020 season. When he's on, Slay is a top-10 cornerback in the NFL and wants to be paid like one. The Lions seem reticent to do so because of Slay's injury issues and occasional inconsistency. Thus, we now see this report from Adam Schefter on President's Day announcing the Lions have engaged in trade talks for the 2017 First-Team All-Pro.
Whichever team trades for Slay better be ready to pony up some cash; the biggest criticism of Slay during his time in Detroit has less to do with his play and more to do with his habit of taking his displeasure with his contract to the media. He's slated to play the 2020 season on a $10 million salary, but will likely want his extension to look like something north of $13 million annually with more than $25 million guaranteed-- numbers reserved for only the best of the best, which Slay clearly believes he is. Here are three teams that make sense for Slay as a landing spot.
The Colts have oodles of cap space and a need for an upgrade at cornerback. They might be saving that cap space to make a run at someone like Philip Rivers, but either way should be reaching out to Detroit to see what they'd have to give up for the privilege of giving Slay a big contract. Indy feels like they're built to win now and will rely heavily on their defense regardless of who's under center. Slay, in the midst of his prime at 29, fits their timeline of competitiveness. Chris Ballard will definitely be looking into this possibility.
The Texans were down to throwing special teamers on Travis Kelce by the time the playoffs rolled around this past season. They desperately need some talent on the outside, and Slay would be a win-now move that fits with their ticking clock on Deshaun Watson's inevitably huge extension. Having just one very good cornerback on the roster creates a domino effect and helps lessen the blow of constantly missing on draft picks and FA pickups at the position. If they have Slay to toss on the other team's No. 1 receiver and leave him be, it changes the complexion of their defense-- a unit that only needs to be just good enough to give Watson and Houston a chance every week. They also have the money to give Slay what he wants, and Bill O'Brien has to know he is almost definitely coaching for his job this year. Fortunately for him, he's also the GM. He might be willing to give up big assets for someone like Slay.
This would be a big win-now move for Buffalo. They have a lot of money to work with this offseason after spending frugally and effectively last year. They have one of the best young corners in the NFL already in Tre'Davious White. Their defense under Sean McDermott is regularly a top-10 unit. Slay's presence would vault them into the top five and potentially give them the best unit in the league, depending on how their pass-rush situation fills out. If Buffalo smells blood in the water after New England stumbled in the playoffs for the first time in a decade, this move is an easy decision. Take all the pressure off Josh Allen and give him a defense that regularly grants him good field position with turnovers and shuts down the other side's passing game. This kind of big transaction isn't GM Brandon Beane's style, but the winds feel like they're changing in the AFC East. This may only be the first step.