Darius Slay’s New Contract Frees Up Plenty of Cap Space

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By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor

Last week, the Eagles made a blockbuster move to acquire cornerback Darius Slay from the Lions.

Some criticized the move claiming that Slay wasn’t young enough and that Howie Roseman was not building a youth movement as he had claimed, simply ignoring the fact that he is waiting to use eight draft picks and Slay, at 29, was by far the oldest acquisition by the team.

Well, even those critics have to be in awe of Slay’s new deal as announced by OverTheCap Wednesday.

Originally billed as the biggest contract for a corner in history, the Eagles needn’t ever pay more than $16 million in a season if they don’t want to.

This season, Slay’s cap hit is just $4.3 million. Last weekend, we at Sports Talk Philly projected that the Eagles likely had around $9-10 million in cap space, but that assumed that Slay’s deal remained the same in 2020. In fact, his cap number dropped by over $9 million on it’s own.

The Birds now figure to have nearly $19 million because of that new deal.

Eagles 2020 Salary Cap Transaction Table

Transaction Salary Change New Cap Space
Cap Space as of March 15, 2020 $36.4M
Decline Malcolm Jenkins’ Option -$4.8M $41.2M
Sign Javon Hargrave +$3.6M $37.6M
Re-Sign Nate Sudfeld +$2M $35.6M
Acquire Darius Slay +$4.3M $31.3M
Re-Sign Hassan Ridgeway +$2M* $29.3M
Re-Sign Jalen Mills +$4M $25.3M
Re-Sign Rodney McLeod +$4.3M* $21M
Sign Will Parks +$1.6M $19.4M
Sign Jatavis Brown +$0.9M $18.5M

* – Indicates number is an estimate

That isn’t all Slay’s new deal features, though. The deal could really be a two-year, $26.55 million deal if the Eagles wanted because Slay receives no guaranteed salary in 2022 and 2023.

The result is that Slay has a $15 million cap hit in 2021, but when his cap hit reaches $19 million in 2022, the team could look to sign him to a new deal or release him and be on the hook for just $6.5 million that season, saving $13.25 million that year.

Essentially, the Eagles need only keep Slay through his age 31 season when they have an opportunity to move on.

The new contract makes this a great deal for the Eagles in the short term, allowing them a way out if the move doesn’t work and a way to keep the player if it does.

Slay’s deal opening up so much cap space may also come as a shock to some fans. There will be those that are upset that the team didn’t sign a top receiver with their $19 million in cap space.

Signing neither Anderson not Perriman was the right move, however. Anderson at a $12 million cap hit is no steal and Perriman, a receiver who has never been consistent and has a partial good season under his belt, was not a good deal at $8 million. That’s an expensive lottery ticket.

Instead, the Eagles will look to the draft to address the position and likely keep their cap space saved for any bargain deals that pop up.

One thing that is often forgotten in the NFL is that the league allows cap space to carry over each season, so saving that space does have an impact on the team’s ability to sign or re-sign players in the future – there is a reason not to use it all up each season.

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