Reversal: Darius Slay staying with Eagles after he was nearly released; Fletcher Cox back
It looks as if Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay is staying put after all.
Reports surfaced Wednesday morning that the Eagles were going to release Slay with a post-June 1 designation, thus saving nearly $18 million on the salary cap. But late Wednesday night, it was reported that the two sides were closing in on a deal.
Slay confirmed it with a tweet.
"Back like I never left!!! Run it back"
Back like I never left!!! Run it back 🦅
— Darius Slay (@bigplay24slay) March 16, 2023
That capped off an interesting start to the new league year on Wednesday that reportedly included re-signing veteran defensive tackle Fletcher Cox to a one-year deal worth $10 million, while losing running back Miles Sanders to the Carolina Panthers to a four-year deal worth as much as $25 million.
Slay would be reunited at cornerback with James Bradberry, who signed a three-year deal reportedly worth as much as $38 million. The Eagles made Bradberry's signing official Wednesday. They also signed free agent running back Rashaan Penny and re-signed running back Boston Scott.
Slay, who had one more year left on his contract, tweeted the news Wednesday morning that he wasn't returning.
"Nothing but love Philly!! Lets see where we heading next.."
Nothing but love Philly!! Lets see where we heading next..
— Darius Slay (@bigplay24slay) March 15, 2023
The Eagles had given Slay permission to seek a trade last week, and Slay admitted on his podcast that he not only didn't ask for a trade, but he wanted to sign an extension with the Eagles.
It's likely that Slay, who had been selected to the Pro Bowl in each of the last two seasons and five times overall, is returning on a lower-cost contract. He was entering the final year of his three-year, $50 million deal, but he would have counted $26 million on the salary cap.
The Eagles could have given Slay an extension, thus lowering his cap hit in 2023 while adding at least one more guaranteed year. That was a risky proposition because Slay is 32 years old. Perhaps that's what ended up happening anyway.
Slay's so-called return could mean that the Eagles might be hard-pressed to keep safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, who's also a free agent. Gardner-Johnson tied for the NFL lead with 6 interceptions despite missing five games.
Cox, meanwhile, was the Eagles' first-round draft pick in 2012. He has been selected to the Pro Bowl six times in consecutive seasons from 2015-20. But Cox, 32, had 7 sacks last season, his most since 2018 when he had 10.5.
Cox is seventh in team history in games played with 173, just behind other returnees in games played Brandon Graham (178) and Jason Kelce (176). Cox is fifth all-time with 65 sacks, just five behind Graham, who's fourth.
Cox will return to a defensive tackle rotation that won't have Javon Hargrave, who is signing with the 49ers for 4 years worth as much as $84 million; and veterans Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph. At defensive tackle, the Eagles return 2022 first-round pick Jordan Davis, 2021 third-round pick Milton Williams, along with Marlon Tuipulotu, who missed most of last season with a knee injury.
Cox will provide veteran depth.
So will Slay, who's considered one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL even at 32 years old. He had three interceptions last season, his 10th in the NFL. The Eagles traded for him in the spring of 2020, sending the Detroit Lions a third- and fifth-round draft pick. Slay was the Lions' second-round pick in 2013.
And now it appears as if Slay will be sticking around.
Contact Martin Frank at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.
This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Reversal: Darius Slay staying with Eagles, and so is Fletcher Cox