In a bit of surprising news, the defending NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles have granted cornerback Darius Slay permission to seek a trade leading up to the start of NFL free agency.
Slay, 32, is among the top cornerbacks in the NFL and is coming off a second consecutive Pro Bowl appearance with the Eagles. He teamed up with fellow Pro Bowler James Bradberry to form one of the best cornerback tandems in the league last season. It’s one of the reasons Philly ran roughshod over the NFC en route to a Super Bowl appearance.
But as has been the case throughout the NFL world, finances are playing a role with the Eagles. Slay is slated to count $26.11 million against the cap next season.
Philadelphia finds itself $5.73 million under the cap with days to go before the start of free agency. In addition to Bradberry, fellow stars such as Javon Hargrave, Fletcher Fox, Brandon Graham and Miles Sanders are all set to hit the open market.
If the Eagles are forced to move off Darius Slay for financial reasons, they’ll need his help to facilitate a trade. This includes restructuring his contract to lower the aforementioned cap hit for an acquiring team. Below, we take all of this into account in looking at four ideal trade scenarios.
Related: Sportsnaut’s updated NFL trade rumors
Las Vegas Raiders trade for star cornerback
Whether Slay would want to join a Raiders team that’s not a Super Bowl contender remains to be seen. What we do know is that Las Vegas general manager Dave Ziegler will do everything possible to upgrade a cornerback group that was a complete disaster a season ago. Opposing quarterbacks threw 25 touchdowns against six interceptions against this unit in 2022. Slay would come with an obvious track record of success.
- Darius Slay stats (2022): 55 tackles, 14 passes defended, 3 INT, 58.2% completion, 83.9 QB rating
Slay did give up 532 passing yards and five touchdowns through the air. But his ability to be a playmaker and shut down one end of the field at times would be an absolute boon in Vegas. It’s all about the Raiders pitching him their plan moving forward.
Related: Sportsnaut’s 2023 NFL salary cap tracker
Miami Dolphins make a move for Darius Slay
Miami just recently released free agent bust Byron Jones after three seasons in South Beach. The move saved a ton against the 2023 NFL salary cap and could end up helping the Dolphins be active in free agency.
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Cornerback is one of several needs for the Fins. Veteran Xavien Howard continues to play at a high level. But there’s very little behind him on the depth chart. Undrafted free agent Kader Kohou started 10 games a season ago. Meanwhile, veteran journeyman Justin Bethel saw action in 11 games. Dolphins general manager Chris Grier has not been afraid to pull off big-time trades in the recent past (Tyreek Hill and Bradley Chubb). Don’t expect that to change this offseason.
Cincinnati Bengals pull off rare blockbuster trade
Cincinnati is one of those teams we must watch closely this offseason. Typically, the team doesn’t spend big in free agency. It also has to worry about signing star quarterback Joe Burrow to what could be an historic contract extension ahead of the 2023 season.
With that said, Cincinnati is currently top five in cap room with $35.55 million to spend. Some of that will be used to re-sign either Jessie Bates or fellow safety Vonn Bell. This doesn’t mean that there’s not a need at cornerback. Eli Apple saw too many snaps a season ago and is slated to hit free agency. Adding someone of Darius Slay’s ilk would make Cincinnati’s defense that much better as the team prepares to compete for a Super Bowl again in 2023.
Related: 2023 NFL mock draft
Kansas City Chiefs add experience in the secondary
Kansas City was proud of how its rookie cornerbacks performed last season. It is part of the reason they were able to capture the Lombardi Trophy. In particular, Trent McDuffie and Jaylen Watson were pretty darn good in coverage.
Why not find a proven multi-time Pro Bowler to help these two grow? In this scenario, McDuffie would move inside to the slot with Slay starting opposite Watson on the outside. It would make for an electric trio. It’s also important to note that general manager Brett Veach is not a stranger to making blockbuster trades.
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