The Eagles have given Darius Slay permission to find a business partner, according to a report from ESPN on Friday.
The 32-year-old cornerback is entering the final year of his contract and will count $26 million toward next year’s salary cap unless the two sides can agree on a renegotiated deal or to find a team interested in trading for him.
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According to an NFL source, Slay did not seek permission to seek a trade. The five-time Pro Bowler and former All-Pro said on the Montgomery & Co podcast last week that he wanted to sign an extension with the Eagles with fresh money in the deal.
“Of course I want an extension with the Eagles,” Slay said in the episode that aired last Friday. “I love the Eagles. They took another chance on me by trading for me, and I did really well of course. But yeah, I like that money, so of course I’ll talk about it in the offseason. That’s everyone, that’s what we all do when we have a year left on our contract, we try to get the extension because that lowers the cap and then you can start building.
With about a dozen key free agents on the market next week and a possible extension for Jalen Hurts looming, the Eagles are in a tough financial situation over the next few seasons. If Slay is looking for fresh money in a reworked contract, he may find a team with more space and will by testing the market.
Trading Slay before June 1 would give the Eagles minimal cap relief compared to what a restructured deal would provide. According to overthecap.com, the Eagles would only free up $3.7 million in cap space by trading Slay before June 1. Converting his base salary into a signing bonus would free up around $17.5 million of space, but raise his caps for future seasons. Trading him after June 1, when the league allows contract charges to be spread over two seasons, would free up $12.3 million in space next year and make him count for $5.3 million over cap in 2024. If traded, it will have dead cap fees until 2026.
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The Eagles traded a third and fifth draft pick to the Detroit Lions for Slay in 2020 and then signed him to a three-year, $50.05 million extension. Even though he has been playing well in recent years, his value will now be lower in the commercial market due to his age. It’s also worth noting that this year’s draft class is considered one of the best for cornerback-in-need teams in recent memory with a handful of corners expected to go in the first round.
Passing from Slay would put the Eagles secondary in an even more uncertain space for next season. All-Pro cornerback James Bradberry and starting safeties CJ Gardner-Johnson and Marcus Epps are all set to test the market next week when free agency opens on Monday. The Eagles have about $6 million in cap space, but could clear a little more space by reworking right tackle Lane Johnson’s deal.
Slay was voted captain for the first time in his career last season and has become a prominent voice in the Eagles locker room over the past few seasons. He had three interceptions and 14 pass breakups last season.
Jeff McLane contributed to this report. This is a developing story. Check back for updates.