Lions' Darius Slay happy for Damon Harrison's new contract. Is his payday next?
“I’m always happy to see a fellow get what he’s earned. I loved it,” Slay said after Friday night’s 24-20 preseason loss to the Buffalo Bills. “I’m glad he’s going to continue to be a part of this team. I’m really looking forward to seeing him make hella plays.
“That’s been good, man. I’m glad they found a way to get that done.”
Now the question is whether Slay is next in line for a payday.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I’m just working really. Whatever happens, happens.”
Slay and Harrison are the most elite and proven commodities on the Lions’ defense. They both skipped organized team activities while they waited on better contracts.
Both reported to training camp on time in late July, when Slay acknowledged he was underpaid with $22.55 million in base salary he has left on his contract for the 2019-20 seasons. Slay is scheduled to make $12.55 million this fall in the third year of a four-year extension he signed in 2016.
While Slay was pleased for Harrison — who was not present when reporters entered the Lions’ locker room Friday night — he wouldn’t say whether he felt Harrison’s deal might be an encouraging sign that the Lions are willing to strike a new deal with him.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I can’t even tell you, honestly. I’m just here to try to win as long as I can.”
Since signing his last contract in training camp before the 2016, Slay has more than proven his worth. He has recorded 56 pass breakups, 13 interceptions and has been selected to two straight Pro Bowls at a time when the market for top cornerbacks has skyrocketed.
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Xavien Howard, the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL, signed a five-year, $76.5 million extension with the Miami Dolphins this spring, months after he was selected to his first Pro Bowl.
Slay believes the Lions think he has proven his worth.
“I’m probably sure we’ve all got a mutual agreement,” he said. “It’s kind of understood. It’s nothing major, man. Right now we’re just looking forward to progress and trying to get a win in preseason. That’s what we need to do.”
Verbal acknowledge of a player’s talent and worth is one thing. A new contract says something entirely different to a player.
“It makes you feel good,” Slay said. “It makes a guy feel like you appreciate his work. That’s all it is. You appreciate him and you respect him and you get everything out of the guy.
“So it’s just a show of appreciation mostly, blessing the family, blessing you, they’re blessing the coaches. So we’re all blessed and fortunate in this business. We’re just going to continue to keep building each other and trying to build a bond with each other outside of business and work.”
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Contact Carlos Monarrez at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.