Lions sign CB Darius Slay to extension through 2020
ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) Darius Slay took the field for Detroit's first practice of training camp with his contract concerns in the past.
Slay signed a four-year extension with the Lions worth about $50 million, a deal that lasts through the 2020 season. The 25-year-old cornerback was heading into the fourth and final season of his rookie contract, and now Detroit doesn't have to worry about losing him to free agency in 2017.
''I know the organization, they love me. I love them,'' Slay said. ''They gave me a great opportunity. I put a lot of good tape on film. I was very important to the team, and I'm glad to still be here.''
The Lions announced Slay's extension shortly before practice Friday. His contract had been one of the team's biggest unresolved issues during the offseason. Slay has become an important part of the Detroit secondary, and the Lions hope he'll be valuable for years to come.
''Darius earned this extension, and we are happy to reward him accordingly,'' general manager Bob Quinn said in a statement. ''We also are pleased to have finalized this now so the team and Darius can focus on the start of training camp and preparation for the upcoming season.''
The other big bit of news from the Lions on Friday was injury-related. Linebacker DeAndre Levy was put on the active non-football injury list. Neither Levy nor coach Jim Caldwell elaborated on what the problem was.
Slay has played in 45 games for the Lions, making 36 starts. He has 149 tackles (119 solo) in his career, with four interceptions and 35 pass defenses.
He said he became pretty emotional after the deal was done.
''I tried to hold my tears in, but I couldn't too long, because of where I came from,'' he said.
Two years ago, the Lions were unable to work out an extension with Ndamukong Suh when he was entering the last season of his contract. They ended up losing him to free agency.
Detroit avoided that scenario with Slay, a player who has progressed well since the Lions drafted the Mississippi State standout in the second round in 2013.
''That's the plan. You know, build our own through the draft and find good guys and then extend them and keep them here,'' team president Rod Wood said. ''It's a lot easier when you know the guy than signing him from free agency when you're hoping that you know him. So we're really happy that it worked out this way.''
The Lions signed Levy to a contract extension around this time last year, then he missed almost the entire season because of hip problems. He stopped to talk to reporters after practice Friday, but the exchange became a bit amusing when he referred questions about his injury to Caldwell - over and over again.
At one point, he was asked how frustrating these injury problems have been.
''It's just a little stress - that Caldwell probably could describe better than I could,'' he said.
For his part, Caldwell gave no details about the injury but said Levy is still a big part of the team's plans.
''If it was something long-term that we deemed as being long-term, you certainly know I would let you know that,'' Caldwell said. ''We want to be a little bit prudent in terms of how we deal with it.''
Safety Don Carey was also put on the active NFI list.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL