By: Justin Bonner
On March 19th, the Eagles and Lions agreed on a trade that would send cornerback Darius Slay to the Eagles for a 3rd and 5th round pick. As a part of that deal, Slay signed a three-year $50 million deal with $30 million guaranteed, making him the highest-paid corner in football at the time. The deal made a lot of sense at the time, and many, including myself, were fans of the move. Slay was a top ten corner and would easily be the best corner they've had in years. Ten months later, and in hindsight, I probably don't make the trade again.
Darius Slay has been a good player for the Eagles this season. He fared relatively well against guys like Terry McLaurin and Amari Cooper but struggled against DK Metcalf and Devante Adams. Yes, those are two great players, but they brought in Slay to neutralize those types of guys. Seattle and Green Bay showed no fear of targeting Slay. Another issue is that Slay was clearly brought in because the Eagles believed they could compete. As we now know, they could not. Slay will be 30 in January and could be on the decline. While he's guaranteed for 2021, all bets are off after that. Slay has a $19.75 million cap in 2022, where he'll be 31 years old. I don't see that happening. They could save a little over $13 million in 2022 by cutting Slay. Barring a renegotiated contract, that seems likely. That means they would have traded a 3rd and 5th round pick, including the monetary assets for two years of Darius Slay. That's not great.
If we're playing hindsight, I opt not to trade for Darius Slay. I instead try and trade for Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs. The Buffalo Bills acquired Diggs for a 2020 1st round pick(22nd overall, 2020 5th round pick, a 2020 6th round pick, and a 2021 4th round pick. While that deal seems steep, let's look at what the Eagles used those picks on. The Eagles used those 2020 Draft picks on Jalen Reagor, John Hightower, and Shaun Bradley. They also traded their 2021 4th round pick for Genard Avery. So Reagor, Hightower, Bradley, and Avery for Diggs? That's a steal. Stefon Diggs currently leads the NFL in catches and receiving yards with 120 and 1,459 respectively Would he have saved the Eagles season? Probably not, but it would be really nice to have some stability at wide receiver.
Now, this is all assuming the Vikings would deal Diggs to an NFC team, but this is my scenario, so let's say they would. Stefon Diggs signed a five-year $72 million contract extension with the Vikings in the summer of 2018. The Bills have Diggs under contract for three more years without paying him more than $14 million a year. So the trade would work both financially and logically for the Eagles, but they had no interest in adding a veteran wide receiver this offseason.
I know what you're saying, "what about cornerback?". Well, I’ll tell you. First things first, let’s say everything else stays the same. The Eagles still sign Javon Hargrave, select Jalen Hurts, and select all the same players except for the ones dealt for Diggs. The Eagles would’ve had both the 85th and 103rd picks. The first choice became Julian Blackmon, a legit DPOY candidate, and the other became Davion Taylor. They could’ve taken either Blackmon or Cameron Danzlter at 85. They could’ve taken Darnay Holmes, Troy Pride, or Amik Robertson at 103. They could’ve taken two corners or an offensive lineman like Tyre Phillips or Solomon Kindley. Maybe a wide receiver like Gabriel Davis or Devin Duvernay would have helped too. Instead, they took Davion Taylor, whose chances of being an NFL contributor are very slim.
Look at it this way, even with Darius Slay and Jalen Reagor, they still have massive needs at cornerback and wide receiver. You can’t convince me that having Stefon Diggs would not be better than having those two.