Darius Slay Wants To Stay In Detroit -- But He's 'Gucci' Either Way

It's the Lions who have to make a decision.

Will Burchfield
December 30, 2019 - 11:42 am
Darius Slay

Quinn Harris / Stringer

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If it were up to him, Darius Slay would sign a juicy extension with the Lions this offseason to continue -- and maybe finish -- his career in Detroit. And then he'd buy a Rolls-Royce Wraith.

But this is all up to the Lions, who aren't all that keen on giving Slay the kind of money he wants. That could lead to a trade this offseason, which means Sunday's loss to the Packers may have been Slay's final game as a Lion. 

He stayed on the field to the bitter end, despite an ankle injury that hindered him for much of the second half. In some ways it was a fitting image of his time in Detroit, Slay playing through pain in a losing cause. 

"That was never my concern, if it was my last game. If it is, it is," he said. "I play this game, it’s a business. I just like to work hard, play the game and go home and see my kids. That’s never a thought in my process. It's just, if it is, it is. If it ain’t, I’m just here to keep trying to win." 

Slay, 28, is under contract through next season. He held out for a new deal last offseason, to no avail, and he'll likely do the same this offseason if nothing changes. He's got good reason. One of the top corners in the NFL, Slay ranks 13th at his position in terms of average annual salary.

His base salary falls from $12.5 million to $10 million in 2020. It's fair to assume he's eyeing something closer to $15 million. After Sunday's loss, Slay was already looking ahead. 

“I’m going to move on with the whole life, my day, everything. It’s on to 2020," he said. "That’s the season I’m looking forward to. New chapter of my life. New chapter for the whole Detroit organization." 

It's an organization, under Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia, that feels like it no longer has room for Slay. Never mind the fact he's one of Detroit's best players -- he's too outspoken, he's too concerned with getting paid. And Slay hasn't exactly attached himself to the Lions through his comments this season. 

But asked on Sunday if he wants to be here next year, Slay said, “Oh yeah, of course. I mean, of course I want to. If it ain’t, I’m Gucci. I mean, I’m blessed, and to be honest I’m one of the best in this game. I ain’t going to lose no sleep about none of that.”

Be it in Detroit or somewhere else, be it next year or the year after, Slay knows he's going to cash in. His production speaks for itself. Since 2014, he ranks first among active NFL players in passes defended (99) and third in picks (19). He was just named to his third straight Pro Bowl.

He wants to stay with the Lions, he said earlier this season, "as long as the Lions want me." An extension this offseason still feels unlikely. But Patricia and Quinn might be forced to keep him for one more year, given the pressure they're under to win. The Lions are a better team with Slay than without him. 

That was clear again on Sunday when Slay was hobbled by his ankle, and Aaron Rodgers and the Packers suddenly came alive in the fourth quarter. For Slay, leaving the game was never an option, even as he said afterward that he "should've stayed down." He wanted to compete against Rodgers and receiver Davante Adams.

The result -- another blown lead, another loss in the closing minutes -- was more fuel for 2020. 

"Gotta finish, that's going to be the main focus I'm on all offseason," Slay said. "Find ways to finish, find ways to make plays, try to be a game-breaker. That's all my goal is in the offseason. 

"I know coach is going to have his goals, he's going to probably preach those to us and let us know what he wants us to do and work on. My individual goal is to be a whole complete better player than I was this year and try to finish." 

Maybe Slay will be in Detroit. Maybe not. He'd like to stick around; the Lions could certainly use him. But Slay doesn't so much need the Lions, so why stress? It's the team that has to make the decision.

He'll be just fine either way.