The Detroit Lions reportedly made the blockbuster, though inevitable, move to send Darius Slay to the Philadelphia Eagles for a third and fifth-round pick on Thursday. Slay leaves the team after seven years in Detroit, and will sign a new deal with the Eagles that will make him the highest-paid cornerback in NFL history.
Now is a great time to look back upon an exciting seven years in the Motor City, and look at how the corner became a fan favorite.
April 26, 2013 - Selected by the Detroit Lions in the NFL Draft
The Lions grabbed Slay 36th overall out of Mississippi State. As the NFL Network analysts said on the broadcast, Slay was an extremely raw talent that showed huge upside. He was a great athlete—with particularly great speed—who had a lot of potential to one day become a top NFL corner.
He would not instantly start in Detroit, as veterans Chris Houston and Rashean Mathis held the jobs at the time, but he was definitely waiting in the wings.
September 28, 2014 — First career interception vs New York Jets
went back to find darius slay's first career interception and was reminded how bad geno smith was pic.twitter.com/nUTaBf9CXj— mansur (@mansurshaheen) March 19, 2020
Slay got his first interception in his second NFL season, and first as a full-time starter. While it may not have been the best display of his talents (Geno Smith was not very good, it turns out!), it got him off the mark and proved to be the first of many to come.
October 9, 2016—Game-winning interception vs Eagles
darius slay handed his new teammate carson wentz his first career interception and first career loss back in 2016— mansur (@mansurshaheen) March 19, 2020
Fans of Slay’s newest team first became acquainted with him back in 2016. A 1-3 Lions team that looked all but lost early in the year got a visit from a juggernaut 3-0 Eagles squad with rookie sensation Carson Wentz at quarterback. Wentz had yet to throw an interception in his opening three NFL starts, and it looked like no one could stop his offense.
Detroit needed to stop the unstoppable late on in the game, and maintain a one-point lead for the last 90 seconds to steal away a win. The rookie quarterback went for a home-run ball on first down to receiver Nelson Agholor, but Slay beat the receiver on a jump ball to snag down a winning interception,
The win sparked a turn around for Detroit that saw them dominate the NFC North for much of the season, and eventually earn a playoff bid with a 9-7 record.
November 24, 2016 — Slay INT steals a win on Thanksgiving
probably the best darius slay moment in a detroit lions uniform pic.twitter.com/HPCA059i03— mansur (@mansurshaheen) March 19, 2020
Thanksgiving of 2016 proved to be one of many games for the Lions that season that came down to the wire. A defensive slugfest saw Detroit tie the game at 13 with under two minutes to play. At that point, it looked like the best case scenario for the team was earning a defensive stop and forcing overtime. But then Slay had his say.
The corner undercut a Case Keenum pass intended for wide receiver Adam Thielen with under a minute to play, and set his team up in field goal range. Matt Prater hit a 40-yard field goal as time expired giving the Lions a crucial victory in the playoff race.
April 27, 2017 — “Homie go get picked off lol”
Homie go get picked off lol— Darius Slay (@_bigplayslay23) April 28, 2017
The Chicago Bears made the puzzling decision to trade up for quarterback Mitchell Trubisky early in the 2017 NFL draft. While there were a lot of good reactions to the pick (and years later it turns out they all aged extremely well), Slay’s tweet welcoming Trubisky to the division is definitely one to remember.
Slay picked off Trubisky three times over the three years the two played against each other, including two in one 2017 game.
January 5, 2018 — Slay selected to first team All-pro list
2017 Associated Press All-Pro First Team: pic.twitter.com/TkDV59cm5a— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) January 5, 2018
The 2017 season was one to remember for the corner. He led the NFL with eight interceptions and truly established himself across the league as one of the game’s best. He received the highest honor of his career thus far in January 2018, when he was named an NFL first-team All Pro as a defensive back. Slay was one of two Lions corners to earn the honor that year (Jamal Agnew was named to the list as a return man).
December 9, 2018 — First career touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals
this will end up being his lone touchdown in a detroit lions uniform pic.twitter.com/FjgOy8X9lA— mansur (@mansurshaheen) March 19, 2020
Slay found the endzone for the first time in his NFL career late in the 2018 season during a lifeless game against the Arizona Cardinals. The corner picked off quarterback Josh Rosen (who was a pick-six machine that year) and took it back 68 yards for a touchdown that essentially sealed the game at that point.
The corner totaled 19 interception in Honolulu Blue over seven years, and the official NFL Twitter account made a supercut of all of them together that is definitely worth checking out for any Lions fan.