The Philadelphia Eagles got the cornerback they needed in Darius Slay.
To say the Philadelphia Eagles secondary was less than stellar in 2019 is an understatement. Whether we blame injuries, ineffective play, or both, the unit, as a whole, needed a makeover. Philly re-signed Jalen Mills, and even though he’s still listed on the roster as a corner, the belief is he’ll make the transition to safety after the “Birds” allowed Malcolm Jenkins to walk. Philly also opted against bringing back Ronald Darby (thank goodness) while adding reinforcements via free agency and trade.
During the most recent “Free-Agency Frenzy”, the Eagles signed one of the most underrated slot cornerbacks in the NFL, Nickell Robey-Coleman. But wait! There’s more.
They also pulled the trigger on trading for one of the game’s playmakers when they sent a third and fifth-round 2020 draft pick to the Detroit Lions for the services of Darius Slay after they had missed out on top-tier cornerbacks like Byron Jones, Chris Harris, and James Bradberry.
They immediately followed the trade with an extension as they awarded him with a three-year, $50 million deal, the richest contract for a player at his position in league history. After making such a hefty investment for the All-Pro, the Eagles are surely expecting great things in return.
What should the Philadelphia Eagles expect from Darius Slay in 2020?
Before joining Philadelphia, all of Slay’s seven seasons were spent in Detroit. There he honed his skills as one of the best cornerbacks in the league. He totaled 19 interceptions and 313 tackles in those seven years.
2017 was his best year as he earned a First-team All-Pro nod after notching a career-high eight interceptions, making him the league’s co-leader in that category.
Even though Pro Football Focus gave Slay a very low grade last season by his standards, the all-star corner allowed under 60 yards receiving in 10 of the 14 games he appeared in. He allowed 49 receptions on 84 targets and recorded two interceptions. He also saved his best performances for his best competition.
Philadelphia can definitely use that kind of production in their secondary this upcoming season. He and the addition of Robey-Coleman bring such a needed breath of fresh air to an Eagles secondary that PFF recognizes as one of the NFL’s most improved units after the draft and free agency heading into the 2020 season.
Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is almost certainly thinking about how he’s going to deploy Slay this upcoming season. After all, he hasn’t been able to count on a cornerback as talented as Slay since joining the Eagles coaching staff in 2016. It may be too early to tell, but Philly’s secondary may give its staff and fans a pleasant surprise in 2020.