The Detroit Lions and fourth-year cornerback Darius Slay have been in contract negotiations for a couple of months now. No extension has been finalized, but that could change soon. Going into the last year of his rookie contract, the 25-year old is under the impression he should be paid similar to the league’s best.
Per Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press:
“I’m a top guy, that’s it,” Slay said. “I ain’t no real cocky guy like that, but I’m just confident in my game and what I put on film. I’ve been very, very productive for the past two years. Every year I has got better, so I feel like this year is going to be the best year and I’m going to make that.”
When asked to elaborate and distinguish what a “top guy” would entail, he rifled off a number of names who he felt were ahead of him.
“Right now I’ll say top seven, just cause as long as (Darrelle) Revis is in the game, he’s going to be the best corner to me,” Slay said. “(Richard) Sherman’s the best, 24 picks in three years, nobody ain’t do that. Pat P (Peterson) of course. I love Chris Harris’ game. The (Aqib) Talibs. The Joe Hadens. I feel like them are the real elite, elite, elite guys, so I feel like I’m an elite guy, but I feel like I got to keep working to get to their level because they’re elite.”
— Pro Football Rumors (@pfrumors) June 14, 2016
Probably not coincidentally, there are seven cornerbacks in the league who average over $11 million a year. You could bet Slay will land in that ballpark. “Big Play” Slay will only make a cool $976,269 for his services under his current rookie contract.
A self-given nickname or title doesn’t carry much weight. Slay would like to be recognized by other players and pundits as a shutdown corner who can go one on one with the opponents best receiver.
“I want to be a traveling corner,” Slay said. “I’m already getting talked about a lot, I feel like, I just want to be known as one of the top guys. Whenever somebody see (me) I want to see somebody ask for my jersey instead of me asking for theirs.”
Despite the 6-foot, 190-pound corners recent lockdown success, it’s the interceptions and splash plays that get the recognition and accolades. Unfortunately, those are two areas in which Slay has struggled. Slay has started 36 games in three years, yet he only has a career total of four INTs. Those substandard numbers could actually work in the favor of Detroit’s checkbook if Slay has a career year this upcoming fall. The potential is there for Slay to break into that elusive “elite” category soon.
From the sounds of it, Slay is letting his agent Drew Rosenhaus do the dirty work. He doesn’t want the day-to-day negotiation process to hinder his progression and love for the game.
“I just like to keep it between them because I don’t want to be distracted so I love to come to work and have fun,” Slay said. “I don’t want to come to work just upside down looking at everybody sideways cause stuff ain’t getting done. So I’ll leave it between them and whenever it happens, I told (Rosenhaus) to call me whenever it happens.”
Long-term extensions are usually only handed to proven players who don’t need further opportunities to justify their worth. Both parties do take somewhat of a gamble to extend a contract to a third-year player. The Lions are betting on the continued advancement from the young corner, therefore, locking him in at a set price. Slay is guaranteeing himself a relatively lucrative long-term contract in a league where longevity is rare.
“I don’t really know why it’s that important (to get it done this summer), but I feel like it should be done then,” Slay said. “But who knows? I’m just out here playing ball, just trying to handle business.”
The encouraging news is that Slay seems to have enjoyed his stay in Detroit so far. He was actually the one to initiate the preliminary contract talks.
“This is the team that drafted me,” Slay said. “I love Detroit. I love the city, I love the fans, so that’s why I came to them and asked them for it. But I love the city, that’s why I want to stay here.”
It could just be the perfunctory reply, but it is better than the alternative.
Could a hometown discount be a possibility? Not likely with the notorious money-hungry Rosenhaus as his agent. Either way, Slay has been the first real corner Detroit has had in a long while and would be wise to pay the man what he deserves.
— Detroit Lions Fans (@LionsNewsNow) February 4, 2016