The Detroit Lions made the move to trade Darius Slay over a week ago, and now that they have, some reviews of the move are beginning to stream in.
Unsurprisingly, the Lions didn’t get great marks for the move from NFL.com. The site and writer Marc Sessler took a closer look at grading the move and others, and handed it a C- from the Detroit perspective. From the Philadelphia Eagles perspective, it managed to get a B+ as a grade.
Here’s a look at why Sessler didn’t like the move from the Detroit perspective:
“Lions fans can defend the deal as a necessity after Slay’s nagging demands to be moved. After Jalen Ramsey netted a pair of first-rounders from the Rams, though, Detroit’s modest asking price should turn heads. The Lions can fill the void by nabbing celebrated cornerback Jeff Okudah from Ohio State at No. 3 overall, but that amounts to simply adding talent where talent was lost.
One of the more disturbing aspects of the move is yet another Lions player grumbling about their relationship with head coach Matt Patricia.”
According to Sessler, the Eagles were the big winners because they traded for Slay, a defensive back in the prime of his career. Worse from the Detroit perspective were the optics of another top player wanting out from Matt Patricia in his mind.
Detroit ended up scoring third and fifth round draft picks in the deal for Slay.
Lions Defense Called Biggest Winner
One side of the ball that needed the most change was the defense. After a horrible pair of seasons under Matt Patricia, there’s already been some big changes on that side of the ball. How will that impact the team when all is said and done? The returns will be very positive if this new piece is to be right.
In a piece breaking down some winners and losers of free agency, Pro Football Focus and writer Ben Linsey took a closer look at what the Lions have done, and found them to be a winner. Here’s a look at what he wrote on that:
“The spotlight is on Darius Slay, particularly after he publicly acknowledged last night that he wants out of Detroit, and as of Thursday morning, a deal has been put in place to send Slay to the Eagles. That is not ideal for the Lions. Despite the down year from a grading standpoint in 2019 (56.4 PFF grade), Slay remains one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL. During the five-year stretch from 2014 to 2018, he ranked eighth among qualifying cornerbacks in overall grade, and he routinely draws shadow assignments against the opposing team’s best wide receiver, making those results all-the-more impressive.
As all that trade speculation took place, the Lions went about improving their coverage to soften the blow of his inevitable loss. They signed former New England Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins, a player who has been outstanding in coverage and as a blitzer for New England over his career but struggled when traded to the Cleveland Browns. He’s an intriguing option for a Lions team that needed an injection of talent into their linebacking corps. The hope is that the transition to Matt Patricia’s defense is smoother than the one Collins made four seasons ago in Cleveland.
Detroit then addressed the secondary with two more moves, trading for Patriots safety Duron Harmon (shocker, I know) and signing former Atlanta Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant. Both players were drafted in 2013, and neither has recorded an overall grade of 65.0 or lower over the course of their NFL careers, rarely dipping below 70.0.
Harmon has been a rangy playmaker on the back end of the Patriots’ defense at free safety. He is one of just eight safeties with 10 or more regular-season interceptions over the past three seasons. Trufant is a 6-foot cornerback who came into the NFL with sub-4.4 speed, and he figures to fit well into a Lions defense that plays a lot of press-man coverage. He’s not quite the same player as Slay, but he has shown in Atlanta that he is fully capable of being the No. 1 guy on the outside. Both players, along with Collins, should improve the Lions coverage in 2020 despite the loss of their top player.”
The Lions still theoretically have a hole at pass rusher and could need another cornerback. All those issues can be straightened out in the draft, which could help the Lions over the top in terms of getting their most important side of the ball turned around.
Some, though, already think the team’s defense is on the right track even though their best player is gone.
Darius Slay’s Lions Career
Slay has been elite since being a second-round draft pick of the Lions back in 2013, and has developed into one of the elite shut down corners in the entire league. He’s also a star for the Lions in the community, and arguably, is one of the top faces of the franchise at this point in time.
This past offseason, Slay missed the OTA period for Detroit amid wanting a new contract. While the Lions haven’t worked anything out with him, they also haven’t closed the door on making his re-signing a priority in the future, meaning a trade is possible if the team wants to move on. Slay also had a strong reaction to the team dealing Quandre Diggs for a draft pick a few months ago.
Now that Slay is gone, not everyone is sure it was the best move for the team to let him go in the end and get the pair of picks in the deal.
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