By Jeff Howe, Bo Wolf and Zach Berman
The Eagles plan to release Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay, a league source said The athletic on Wednesday. Here’s what you need to know:
- Slay, 32, earned his fifth Pro Bowl spot during the 2022 season with three interceptions and 14 pass defenses.
- The move marks another part of the Eagles’ 2022 defense that won’t be returning, with defensive tackle Javon Hargrave and linebacker TJ Edwards headed elsewhere. Others, such as defense tackle Fletcher Cox and security CJ Gardner-Johnson, are pending free agents.
- The Eagles will reportedly designate Slay as a post-June 1 release. This would push more than $13 million from its limit to 2024. He will count and exchange $8 million against the 2023 cap.
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The athletic‘s direct analysis:
What’s next for the Philadelphia roster?
Releasing Slay immediately opens up $17.5 million in caproom and pushes the dead money forward, as the Eagles have done many times over the years. With several holes to fill, that’s enough room to capture someone like the likes of Gardner-Johnson as he puts holes close to defensive tackle, linebacker, and cornerback.
It’s also not entirely impossible that the Eagles sign Slay once he explores the open market, as they did with Cox last season. — Wulf
How this affects Philly’s defense
The Eagles lost a five-time Pro Bowler who had been one of their top players. With Slay and Bradberry, the Eagles had one of the best cornerback combinations in the NFL. They agreed a new deal with James Bradberry on Tuesday and now they’re moving forward with Slay. That weakens the secondary, but keeps them from paying big bucks to a pair of over-30 cornerbacks.
The Eagles saw the benefits of two striking corners and now have a striking gap to Bradberry. It could be addressed in the draft – the Eagles have the No. 10 and No. 30 picks in the first round, and they have four picks in the top 100 – or through free agency or trade. Internal options include Zech McPhearson and Josh Jobe. Neither would establish themselves as a sure starter, so look for the Eagles to add to the position.
Slay was also a respected leader who was elected team captain, with a unique personality that endeared him to teammates in the locker room. But such is the life cycle in the NFL and the defense would look different next season. Slay is the fifth starter to leave, alongside Hargrave, Edwards, Marcus Epps and Kyzir White. — Berman
The Eagles acquired Slay in a trade with the Lions in March 2020. The cornerback has a career-high 26 interceptions and 133 pass defenses during his 10 seasons with Philadelphia and Detroit.
(Photo: Eric Hartline/USA Today)