It didn't take long for "the next wave" to happen for the Philadelphia Eagles. According to reports, the Eagles have acquired veteran cornerback Darius Slay from the Detroit Lions in exchange for third- (No. 85 overall) and fifth-round (No. 166 overall) draft picks in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft.
Slay fits exactly what the Eagles are looking for in a cornerback: He's talented, experienced, a terrific athlete, and he's made a living by making big plays, hence the nickname "Big Play Slay."
The Eagles have also reportedly agreed to terms with Slay on a three-year contract extension through 2023.
Slay, 6-foot, 190 pounds, was originally a second-round draft pick by the Lions in 2013, selected by then-Lions Head Coach and current Eagles Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz. He is a three-time Pro Bowl player, having been chosen in each of the past three seasons and he was named a first-team All-Pro in 2017 when he led the league with eight interceptions.
Clearly, Slay, who has 19 career interceptions, is at the top of his game.
And he fits exactly what the Eagles' defense needs – some impact on the back end.
Here is a scouting report on Slay: "Versatile player who has mirrored opposing No. 1 WR both inside and outside. Very good instincts in man coverage and has the playmaking ability to take the ball away."
After reportedly agreeing to terms with impact defensive tackle Javon Hargrave earlier in the week, the Eagles went into negotiation mode following their interest in signing cornerback Byron Jones in free agency. Jones reportedly agreed to terms with the Miami Dolphins and the Eagles turned their attention toward Slay, a player they have long admired and respected. He's been a difficult matchup for wide receivers after playing collegiately with Fletcher Cox at Mississippi State.
"He does everything right," wide receiver Nelson Agholor said of Slay prior to the Eagles' meeting against Detroit during the 2019 season. "He can get up on you. He's strong. He reacts well to things. He anticipates where you are going. He's one of the best. We have our work cut out for us."
Slay was extremely open about his interest in being traded from Detroit and after the Lions reportedly signed cornerback Desmond Trufant in free agency, Slay tweeted, "Hope that speeds up my trade process!!"
Clearly, it did.
And the Eagles are the beneficiaries as they address a clear need with a top-grade talent who can match up against any kind of wide receiver the Eagles will see in 2020.
One of the NFL Draft''s top cornerback prospects, Ohio State's Jeff Okudah, was asked about Slay at the NFL's Scouting Combine and he raved about the veteran.
"I'm always watching Darius Slay, I'm trying to emulate the things he does," Okudah said. "He's a great player. He plays with great technique and he makes amazing plays. His nickname Big Play Slay, it's like, how much better does it get than that? So just being able to reach out to him and talk to him, use him as a resource really, it just kind of shows what kind of guy he is because he doesn't have to talk to me, honestly."
The Eagles knew they needed to address cornerback, and they've done it in a convincing way. Slay will start on one side, with the other starting job still in question. The Eagles reportedly retained Jalen Mills prior to the open of the new business year, and could take a look at him in the role that Malcolm Jenkins played in the last year or two, a quasi-linebacker who moves around in the defensive backfield. Avonte Maddox is a possibility, as are Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas. The Eagles also like what Cre'Von LeBlanc brings as a nickel cornerback – both LeBlanc and Maddox have played that role very well the last two seasons.
Bottom line: It's a huge upgrade.
The Eagles went out and acquired a player and used two draft picks – they now have eight picks in April – as capital to bring in a difference-making cornerback.