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The teammate Slay expects to break the bank on his next contract


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The teammate Slay expects to break the bank on his next contract



Darius Slay is a Pro Bowler, a hilarious and unique personality, a big-time playmaker.

The Eagles do have another starting cornerback, and he's kind of the opposite of Slay. 

Steve Nelson is quiet, reserved and fairly anonymous. While Slay was running around intercepting passes, scooping up fumbles and scoring touchdowns, Nelson was quietly giving the Eagles solid play at the CB2 position.

There's one other difference: Slay is the 5th-highest-paid cornerback in the NFL with an average of $16.68 million per year on a three-year deal he signed last year -- trailing only Jalen Ramsey ($20 million per year), Marshon Lattimore ($19.52 million), Marlon Humphrey ($19.5 million) and Tre'Davious White ($17.25 million). 

Nelson? He earns a relatively modest $3 million per year on the one-year deal he signed in July, which makes him the 45th-highest-paid corner in the league.

Nelson will be an unrestricted free agent after this season, and at 28 and coming off a solid year, he should be in line for a significant pay raise.

Slay certainly expects it. 

"Sad to say, but when the time comes, I hope he earns what he deserves because he's earning a lot of money right now," Slay said Wednesday.

Why "sad to say?"

Because Nelson could quite well be playing himself out of the Eagles' price range.

Thanks to Slay's contract, the Eagles may not be in position to offer Nelson the type of long-term multi-year deal with a sizable signing bonus he'll be looking for. If you already have one high-priced corner, it's tough to fit a second one under the cap.

So this postseason, which starts with a wild-card game in Tampa Sunday, could very well be Nelson's final run in an Eagles uniform.

When the Eagles signed Nelson to a one-year deal, they probably didn't envision him staying here beyond this year. There's a reason Howie Roseman has been stockpiling young, fast corners -- Zech McPhearson was a 4th-round pick this year, and since May, the Eagles have acquired Kary Vincent, Josiah Scott, Tay Gowan, Mac McCain and Andre Chachere.

And with three 1st-round picks, there's a fairly good chance the Eagles will draft a corner in the first round in April.  

That's where CB2 will likely come from next year. A young cost-controlled guy on a rookie or budget contract.

But even though Nelson's days as an Eagle could be numbered, it doesn't take away from the season he's had.

The stats are nothing special -- one interception, seven pass knockdowns, 50 tackles. But he's been solid, especially the second half of the year when the Eagles went 7-2 and ranked 11th in the NFL in pass defense.

Because Slay generally takes care of an opposing team's top receiver, Nelson draws No. 2, and that's been a good matchup for the Eagles. Matter of fact, not including the meaningless season finale against Dallas, only two teams had two WRs with 45 yards in a game against the Eagles this year (the Chargers and Jets). And only five WRs from Week 1 through Week 16 had more than 66 yards against the Eagles.

Slay and Nelson have been a terrific tandem. 

"He's meant a great deal," Slay said. "An older guy, leader, a smart dude, man. We helped each other get better this year, for sure. He was a great addition for us. He did a lot for this team. 

"He's gone out there, playing his best game, tackling well, covering well, been a smart dude. He's been a great addition for us, for sure."


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