Lions' Rod Wood: Darius Slay extension a blueprint for the future

With Darius Slay under contract, the Lions can now turn their focus to other members of the 2013 draft class

Dave Birkett
Detroit Free Press
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Detroit Lions team president Rod Wood.

If the Detroit Lions have their way, the four-year, $50.2 million contract extension they signed cornerback Darius Slay to today will be a blueprint for future business.

Two years after losing star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to free agency, Lions president Rod Wood said Slay is the type of homegrown star the Lions hope to draft, develop and retain down the road.

“That’s the plan," Wood said before the first practice of training camp today. "Build our own through the draft and find good guys, then extend them and keep them here. It’s a lot easier when you know the guy then signing them from free agency when you’re hoping that you know them, so we’re really happy that it worked out this way."

Slay signed a four-year extension that includes $23 million in guaranteed money and should keep him a Lion through 2020.

He's the first of several members of the team's successful 2013 draft that the Lions hope to re-sign before free agency.

Ziggy Ansah, the Lions' first-round pick in 2013, is under contract through next season on a fifth-year option, but Sam Martin, Devin Taylor, Larry Warford and Theo Riddick all will be free agents after this season.

Wood declined to say where contract talks stand with any of that group, but he said it was for the Lions to extend Slay.

“It was something that we wanted to get done as soon as possible, ideally before training camp started and I’m really, really glad that it worked out," Wood said. "A lot of people worked really hard on it from our side and Darius’ side and I’m glad it got done."

The Lions have suffered a talent drain in recent years, losing Suh, a three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle, to free agency after the 2014 season and watching wide receiver Calvin Johnson retire earlier this year.

Wood said the urgency to re-sign Slay this off-season had nothing to do with losing those stars.

"I don’t think they were connected," he said. "The other decisions were independent of this, but we were happy to get Darius done and he did earn his contract and we’re glad it’s done and we’re glad it got done before training camp started."

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