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Recent NFL contracts provide blueprint for Darius Slay, Damon Harrison extensions

The Lions could follow the Chiefs’ example.

Kansas City Chiefs v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

As players around the NFL are getting ready to break for a month, we’re starting to see a few players receive new contracts and extensions. The Detroit Lions have two players that are seeking new deals, but general manager Bob Quinn doesn’t typically do extensions around this time, often choosing to wait for the start of training camp to get down to the financial side of football.

However, these early deals could give us some insight into the kind of agreements the Lions may agree upon with Damon Harrison Sr. and Darius Slay. Let’s take a closer look.

Two years remaining

The sticking point with a lot of fans is that both Slay and Harrison have two years remaining on their contract, therefore they need to wait their turn before they should be sitting out. Upcoming CBA and age aside, extending players with two years remaining on their contract isn’t that out of the ordinary. This week alone, we’ve seen it happen twice. Saints defensive lineman Cameron Jordan and Chiefs offensive lineman Mitchell Schwartz both just got paid despite having two years remaining on their respective deals.

Interestingly enough, Jordan (29) and Schwartz (30) are almost identical in age to Slay (28) and Harrison (30).

Guaranteed money

One of the likely sticking points for Slay and Harrison is how both of their contracts have no remaining money. While it’s unlikely either player gets cut during the duration of their current contract, you just never know. It only takes one play to suffer a devastating injury that could cause the Lions to rethink their commitment next season.

That’s where Mitchell Schwartz’s extension comes in. The Chiefs extended him for just one extra season, making him the second-highest paid right tackle in the league for that 2021 year. However, more importantly to Schwartz, his 2019 and 2020 salaries are now guaranteed:

And with Schwartz, you could make the argument that many have made with both Slay and Harrison: he’s already getting paid near the top of his position. Prior to his one-year extension, Schwartz had the sixth-highest cap hit among all right tackles for 2019. Similarly, Slay currently ranks first, while Harrison ranks among the highest nose tackles in the league (more than Eddie Goldman, considerably less than Brandon Williams).

It’s impossible to know if that will be enough to make Slay or Harrison happy, but we do know that Slay has argued for guaranteed salaries in the past:

If this is all it takes, there’s no reason for Quinn to wait a couple of months. Get this done so that Slay and Harrison don’t continue to get dragged through the mud by frustrated fans, and show the rest of the team you don’t mind getting deals done early to avoid negative PR running into training camp.

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After winning their first NFC North title in 30 years, the Lions have unfinished business this offseason. Stay updated with Jeremy Reisman through Pride of Detroit Direct, our newsletter offering up exclusive analysis. Sign up with NFCNORTH30 to get 30% off after your free trial.