Broncos Tried to Acquire CB Darius Slay from Lions via Trade; Detroit Fielding Calls
The Denver Broncos are gearing up for an offseason in which GM John Elway will be armed to the teeth with cap space and draft picks. The Broncos are working to complete a mini-rebuild post-Super Bowl 50, and with the biggest question mark at quarterback ostensibly answered, the time will soon come to put the finishing touches on a new roster.
One glaring hole is the cornerback position. With Chris Harris, Jr. set to hit the open waters of unrestricted free agency, the Broncos are going to be in the market to add some talent to the cornerback room.
While there's always the chance that Harris will re-sign, the Broncos are covering their bases to find additional options in the event that a new deal isn't reached with the four-time Pro Bowler. One name to keep an eye on is Detroit Lions' CB Darius Slay.
Slay is not poised to be a free agent but there is a chance he could be available on the trading block. Slay's name was floated last week as a possible trade target of Denver's by 9NEWS' insider Mike Klis and based on a new report, it sounds like there could be some fire at the base of that plume of smoke.
With ESPN's Adam Schefter breaking the news that the Lions have spoken to "multiple teams" about Slay's availability via trade, NFL insider Benjamin Allbright offered up the reminder that the Broncos have expressed interest in acquiring Detroit's three-time Pro Bowl corner in the past, as was originally reported by Klis back in December.
The idea is this; if the Broncos attempted a trade with the Lions ahead of the 2019 trade deadline, perhaps Denver is one of the "multiple teams" who've contacted Detroit about Slay's current availability. Although the talks last fall ultimately died and weren't consummated, an interest in Slay on the part of the Broncos was genuine.
As Schefter reported, any suitors for Slay's services now would not only have to be willing to compensate the Lions, but also the player. Slay would be looking for an extension.
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If the Broncos were interested in a Harris-for-Slay trade last fall, there's a chance Elway would be willing to give up a premium-round draft pick to acquire Slay in 2020. The Broncos have to pay at least one veteran cornerback, whether it's Harris, or an outside guy. Considering Elway's interest less than six months ago, it's plausible to assume that Denver would be willing to compensate Slay now.
Acquiring a true lockdown cornerback that can shut down an opponent's No. 1 receiver, like Slay did to Courtland Sutton in Week 16 last year (4 rec. on 10 targets for 41 yards), will come at a premium. Elway's never been afraid to pay top-dollar to a cornerback.
According to Ryan O'Halloran of the Denver Post, it would take a second- to third-round pick to nudge the Lions into letting Slay go, which would have to be quickly followed by an extension. Slay would want top-of-the-market money but the Broncos happen to be the proud owners of three third-round picks in 2020.
Slay just turned 29, so if the Broncos are weighing the risks of paying a No. 1 cornerback, the reward would seem to outweigh the downside compared to the soon-to-be 31-year-old Harris.
Meanwhile, Harris is intent on testing the market and seeing what type of interest exists out there. The Broncos tried to keep Harris around, offering him a three-year, $36 million extension near the trade deadline last year, but the player dismissed it as a low-ball attempt to pressure him. That's to say nothing of Harris' holdout during OTAs last year which resulted in the Broncos sweetening his 2019 salary by more than $3M.
There's a lot of water under that bridge between Harris and the Broncos, which is why many in the know believe he's destined to depart in free agency. If the Broncos are ready to get out of the Harris business, they'll have to find a starting alternative.
Bryce Callahan is under contract for 2020 but he still has to prove he can bounce back from that lingering foot injury that cost him all of 2019 and resulted in yet another surgery. The Broncos can't count on him, which means they'll have to be players in free agency or via trade.
The Slay situation in Detroit is picking up momentum, and the buzz connecting the Broncos to it is too much to brush off. Suffice to say, we'll be keeping a close eye on this situation as it unfolds.