By Jeff Howe, Bo Wolf and Zach Berman
Eagles plan to release Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay, league source says Athleticism Wednesday. Here’s what you need to know:
- Slay, 32, earned his fifth-place finish in the Pro Bowl in the 2022 season with three interceptions and 14 pass defenses.
- The move marks another element of the Eagles defense in 2022 that won’t return, with players like defensive tackle Javon Hargrave and linebacker TJ Edwards heading elsewhere. Others like defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and safety CJ Gardner-Johnson are pending free agents.
- The Eagles would designate Slay as an out after June 1. This would push over $13 million from its 2024 cap. It will be $8 million and change from the 2023 cap.
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What’s next for the Philadelphia roster?
Slay’s release immediately opens the $17.5 million cap and advances dead money, as the Eagles have done many times in years past. With several holes to fill, that’s enough room to sign someone like, say, Gardner-Johnson while filling in the gaps at defensive tackle, linebacker and cornerback.
Nor is it entirely impossible for the Eagles to sign Slay once he explores the open market, as they did with Cox last season. — Wulf
How it impacts Philly’s defense
The Eagles lost a five-time Pro Bowler who had been one of their best players. With Slay and Bradberry, the Eagles had one of the best cornerback combinations in the NFL. They agreed to a new deal with James Bradberry on Tuesday, and now they’re leaving Slay. This weakens the secondary, but prevents them from paying big money to a pair of 30-plus cornerbacks.
The Eagles saw the benefits of two remarkable turns and now have a glaring hole in Bradberry’s face. That could be addressed in the draft — the Eagles have the No. 10 and No. 30 picks in the first round, and they have four top-100 picks — or through free agency or a trade. Inside options include Zech McPhearson and Josh Jobe. Neither would profile as a safe starter, so look for the Eagles to add to the position.
Slay was also a respected leader who was voted team captain, with a unique personality that endeared him to his teammates in the locker room. But such is the life cycle in the NFL, and the defense had to be different next season. Slay is the fifth starter to depart, joining Hargrave, Edwards, Marcus Epps and Kyzir White. — berman
The Eagles acquired Slay in a trade from the Lions in March 2020. The cornerback has 26 career interceptions and 133 pass defenses in his 10 seasons with Philadelphia and Detroit.
(Photo: Eric Hartline/USA Today)