Written by Mason LeBeau
Well when Schefter tweets it everyone listens. But instead of a Schefty-Bomb he more confirmed what we’ve been expecting.
With the Lions in a perfect spot to draft Jeffrey Okudah who is one of the most polished CB prospects we’ve seen in a while, it doesn’t seem likely Detroit will pay the 29-year old veteran. They can still get value for a player who's been one of the top corners in the game on what is usually a poor Lions defense, and he can get paid for his efforts which should be beneficial for both sides.
So what needs to come together for trade to happen and who may be interested? Let’s go over that but first look at the boxes that need to be checked for a deal to make sense for both sides.
This is what the Lions are going to be looking for in return and in such a stacked DB class they could very well get younger at the position. Slay will likely cost at least a day two pick so having that extra stock in the top 75 will be key.
Any team that’s trading for Slay is trading for the right to pay him. And by all means he’s let us know he wants that top CB money. You don’t need a ton of cap space to make this happen as it’s somewhat easy (and a bit irresponsible) to backload the deal and create the cap you need. But some teams simply don’t have the room if they want to patch holes or re-sign/extend their own guys, so the more cap space the better (duh).
At age 29 any team inheriting Slay is looking to win now or at least very soon. It would simply be counterproductive for a team that’s rebuilding to invest in a player his age unless they believe they’re turning the corner very shortly.
So upon research here are what I believe to be the most likely trade scenarios for the likely-soon-to-be-former Lions defender from least to most likely.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cap Space: Ideal
With Tampa Bay we’re aren’t positive which direction this team is going until the QB position is cleared up. Unless they opt to go young at QB, Slay would be a smart target that would fantastically compliment a backfield that needs an upgrade. If the pass rush picks up where they left off there would be a mean defense in Tampa that could challenge a top-5 passing defense. They will have the cap space to afford to pay Slay without hurting their future finances but with only one pick in the middle of each of the first three rounds they’d lose a good amount of stock and would be easy to outbid. This move is fairly unlikely, but there’s a lot of variance pending on upcoming moves could put them in position to make a splash.
Cap Space: Not Ideal
So there’s a clear lack of cap space the Falcons would have to maneuver around to make this work. Once again, it’ll be possible to free up enough space and spread the cap hit out to make the move if they really wanted to and the timeline matches up to do so. With Matt Ryan and Julio Jones seemingly still in their prime with a young OL and Calvin Ridley, it’s up to the defense to match their production which for the most part they haven’t been able to do. Desmond Trufant hasn’t been able to live up to his contract through a slew of injuries and a CB2 role may be to his benefit with a guy like Slay locking down opposing 1s. Atlanta has that extra second 2nd round pick they got for Mohamed Sanu, so flipping it to add a piece that could be more impactful would be a great play if they believe they can make a playoff run.
Cap Space: Good
Seattle does have an extra 2nd round pick but considering it’s the Chiefs and that they don’t have a third round pick, the stock lines up with just above average. However, we still live with a Pete Carroll ran Seahawks team so the defense remains supreme. No stranger to making a big play like Richardson or Clowney, Slay is better than both and at a position Seattle has only adequately filled since Sherman went down. The CB room has some talent but with a true CB1 like Slay it would open up that defense a great deal. With a prime Russell Wilson and extra cap space to play with, Seattle shouldn’t shy away from making a big play.
Cap Space: Optimal
There’s no doubt that Miami has stockpiled the resources to make the move if they wanted to. But do they want to? Rather it’s Justin Herbert or Tua Tagovailoa that’s the new face of the franchise, it’ll be Ryan Fitzpatrick starting the season and a bunch of rookies littered around the roster. The Dolphins may pull the trigger here if they believe they can be a true player in a potentially Tom Brady-less Patriots division in 2021, but considering the coaching staff or front office won’t see or even know who their young QB and rookies are by the time they have to make that deal, it’ll be risky to invest in a 30-year old CB when the rest of the team might not be there yet. Still the resources are there it’s just up to Miami to decide if this is the right move to compliment the youth movement they’re about to undertake, or if that money is best used for another year.
Cap Space: Perfect
Another team that has more than enough draft ammo and cap space to make the splashy move should they choose to do so. However, like the Buccaneers we aren’t quite sure what direction the Colts are going in this next season. If the team kicks the tires on some solid FAs and goes hard after a Justin Herbert or Jordan Love, then a Darius Slay move doesn’t quite fit the slow and meticulous style of team-building GM Chris Ballard has opted for thus far. That money will likely be saved until the team is really ready to take that next step. If the team has a different idea of QB like Philip Rivers, then that opens up a specific contention-window that Slay would fit into perfectly. With a team well built from the inside-out Slay is the perfect piece to put a solid secondary into elite status. The draft can be focused on offensive skill players and the Colts could look like a pretty complete team very quickly.
But it’s entirely dependent on the most important decision first.. QB.
Las Vegas Raiders
Cap Space: Optimal
Don’t let the two 1st round picks fool you. After pick 19 the Raiders 2nd round pick belongs to the Bears, though Vegas does own an extra 3rd. No. 19 is a bit too sweet for my taste and LV is missing stock right in the area that Slay would command so finding the right trade here might be a bit trickier.
But everything else aligns so well that this move makes a lot of sense. Gruden and Mayock aren’t going to shy away from a big trade of this caliber. The move to Las Vegas needs a spark and the defense is desperately in need of an X-Factor. With a roster that’s coming together and all that young talent not taking up large cap hits, Slay would fit in perfectly with a Raiders team that could really use his talents.