It’s always a dangerous game reading too much into tweets, but sometimes professional athletes make their intentions pretty clear via the social media platform.
That appears to be the case with Detroit Lions cornerback Darius Slay. Everyone knows the Lions Pro Bowler is seeking a new contract after failing to come to an agreement with the team last offseason. Though one year is remaining on his deal, Slay would undoubtedly like some long-term assurance plus at least one more big contract.
How big will that contract be? SI Maven’s Logan Lamorandier posed that question by listing the current top cornerback contracts by average salary:
#Lions CB Darius Slay is going into the last year of his deal. How much per year would you be willing to pay Slay?— Logan Lamorandier (@LLamorandier) February 9, 2020
Current top-paid CBs per year average:
Xavien Howard: $15.1M
Josh Norman: $15M
Trumaine Johnson: $14.2M
Xavier Rhodes: $14Mhttps://t.co/nnv1p7Qf9H
Stretching that to the top 10, all of the average annual values span between $13 million and just over $15 million. But that doesn’t appear to be enough for Slay, who responded to Lamorandier’s tweet thusly:
Y’all number to low lol— Darius Slay (@_bigplayslay23) February 10, 2020
It’s unclear if Slay is referring to the numbers in Lamorandier’s tweet or his article—which suggests paying Slay up to $16 million per year. Also, he throws an “lol” in there just to cast a little bit of doubt on his seriousness.
Slay’s last contract—four years, $48.15 million—averaged just over $12 million a year. His cap hit for 2020 is currently slated to be $13.4 million. A jump to $16+ million would not only be a significant pay raise for Slay, but it would obviously place him atop all NFL cornerbacks.
Last year, Xavien Howard reset the cornerback market by signing a record-setting five-year, $75.25 million deal. Howard was just 25 when he signed that deal, while Slay just turned 29.
Although there doesn’t appear to be a free agent cornerbacks that could push the market value even higher this offseason, there are some premier cornerbacks, like Slay, that could be in line for an extension this year. Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman, Jalen Ramsey and Marshon Lattimore (fifth-year option pending) are all entering the final year of their deals.
If any of those players receive their extension before Slay, it will provide an important benchmark for future negotiations. Will it be anywhere near $16 million a year? Time will tell.
UPDATE: Former Lions safety Quandre Diggs suggested a four-year, $68 million deal for Slay ($17 million average), and the Lions corner seemed a little more open to that idea: