It’s out there that Darius Slay had a down year in 2019.
He's heard it.
And he wants Eagles fans to know he disagrees.
What does Slay say to people who say he had a disappointing season last year? “I say they don’t watch film.”
The Eagles acquired Slay Thursday morning from the Lions in exchange for third- and fifth-round picks and promptly signed him to a three-year, $50 million contract extension that runs through 2023 and makes him the highest-paid cornerback in NFL history once that extension kicks in.
NBC Sports Philadelphia’s John Clark caught up with Slay by telephone Thursday and asked him about those whispers that his play wasn’t up to par in 2019 or that he’s not the player he once was.
You can read Clark’s full Q&A with Slay here:
I had a very, very solid year,” said Slay, who made his third straight Pro Bowl in 2019. “This past year I probably went six or seven games without being thrown at but one time, and that’s with me following their best guy. So I’ve got a lot of respect, man. I’m not making Pro Bowls just to make them. Shoot, we weren’t even consistently winning in Detroit, so for me to make the Pro Bowl on a team that wasn’t consistently winning, it says a lot. It shows you’ve got a lot of respect. Not to diss Detroit or nothing, but you look at it like, a guy making Pro Bowl from Detroit he’s got to be doing something (right) at the time.
Slay has 19 interceptions since he became a full-time starter in 2014, third-most in the NFL behind corners Marcus Peters and Stephon Gilmore and safety Reggie Nelson. His 13 INTs since 2017 are second-most in the league, behind only Kevin Byard.
No Eagle cornerback has more than six INTs since 2014.
Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who was the Lions’ head coach when they drafted Slay in 2013, has never schemed up a cornerback with the opposing team’s top receiver while with the Eagles, electing instead to assign each corner a side of the field.
But with a talent like Slay, he now has the luxury of just lining him up across the field from Amari Cooper, Robert Woods, Odell Beckham Jr. or Michael Thomas, all of whom are scheduled to face the Eagles in 2020.
“I love it, just because the fact that I just love to compete and I like the pressure on my shoulders,” Slay said. “I just like to go to the guys and say, man, whatever you need me to do, I’ll do it. That’s how I end up following the best guy all the time, because they feel like I’m the best cover guy so I’ll go cover the best guy, and I just look forward to that job every week and I just go out there and try to do my best for my teammates.”
Slay is the Eagles’ first elite cornerback since Asante Samuel made his last Pro Bowl in 2010, a full decade ago.
Since then they’ve used 26 different starting cornerbacks, and none of them has started more than 34 games.
Clark asked the 29-year-old Slay what he brings to the table as a player.
I bring a lot of versatility,” he said. “I can play outside, I can play slot, I can follow a guy — anywhere he goes I can go. If he lines up at running back I can play linebacker. With me, I was blessed with great ball skills and I’m a pretty fast guy and just have a knack for the ball, man. A knack for the ball. I like to cause turnovers. I love to give offenses great opportunities to put more points on the board, that’s why I try to create more plays on the defensive side.
He’s exactly what the Eagles need, what they’ve needed for a very long time.
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