The Eagles have given Darius Slay’s agent permission to seek a trade, according to an ESPN report. The report notes that the Eagles hope to retain Slay.
ESPN reported that Slay did not ask for or demand a trade. Slay’s agent is Drew Rosenhaus, one of the most powerful and connected agents.
This stunning news is just that — stunning … and shocking.
Slay, 32, is one of the Eagles’ captains. Beyond that, he is considered one of their leaders. All season, head coach Nick Sirianni praised his captains and how their leadership was crucial to the Eagles’ success.
Slay is in the final year of a three-year contract that was worth $50 million. He is scheduled to make $17 million next season.
Teams would be eager to talk about trading for Slay, one of the league’s top cornerbacks and a Pro Bowler this season. Cornerback is a premium position and many teams would want an upgrade.
Should the Eagles trade Slay, coupled with the expected departure of free agent James Bradberry, the position would be basically barren. Slay played 90.6 percent of the snaps; Bradberry 97.4.
Behind Slay and Bradberry are Josh Jobe (1.08 percent of the snaps) and Zech McPhearson (8.9). Avonte Maddox is a solid nickel back who only played 41 percent of the snaps this season because of injury.
TOP-RANKED PASS DEFENSE
With Slay and Bradberry at the corners, the Eagles’ pass defense was outstanding. The Eagles had the NFL’s top-ranked pass defense, allowing 179.8 yards per game.
Slay was never better than in Week Two, when he rendered Vikings All-World receiver Justin Jefferson virtually useless, holding him to six catches for 48 yards in a 24-7 Eagles’ victory. Slay also had two interceptions against the Vikings. He had three picks all season.
Slay made the players association’s All-Pro team and was named to his fifth Pro Bowl this season.
The Eagles have free agency and the draft to address the cornerback situation. They already had an issue with the expected departure of Bradberry, a second team All-Pro.
Sitting at No. 10 in the draft, the Eagles could land one of the top cornerbacks. Even at No. 30, a quality cornerback should be available.
Free agency also could provide a suitable replacement, although given their salary cap situation, the Eagles might be looking more at the Dollar Store than Macy’s for replacements.
WHY AND WHY NOW?
This news brings out questions galore.
Does Slay really want to leave? Why?
Is he trying to force a contract extension from the Eagles? On a recent podcast, Montgomery & Co., Slay said he wanted a contract extension with them.
- “I love the Eagles,” Slay said on the podcast. “They took another chance on me trading for me, and I panned out very well of course. But yeah, I love that money, so of course I’m going to be talking about it this offseason.
- “That’s we all do when we’ve got one year left on our deal. We try to get the extension because it makes the cap low and then you get to start building around the team because once your cap’s too high, you can’t add more players.”
Does Slay, at age 32, want to try to cash in on another big contract elsewhere before he retires?
Are the Eagles willing to trade Slay and try to pay Bradberry to stay? The idea being they are going to lose one of them anyway, and the Eagles would prefer Bradberry over Slay.
Does Slay see the potential crumbling of the Eagles’ defense — eight of the 11 starters are free agents — and he wants out?
Roseman wants to roll Slay into more draft picks.
What else is in play here? What don’t we know?
One thing we do know: Losing Slay and Bradberry this offseason would put the Eagles’ defense in an enormous hole. Any replacements would not be up to the standards of Slay and Bradberry. A rookie would be too green; a free agent not as talented; and who knows what comes back in a trade.
If you believe in omens, this isn’t a good one for the Eagles.