The Eagles were able to maintain both members of their starting corner tandem this offseason, despite a tight financial situation and a number of defensive starters departing in free agency. That included bringing back Darius Slay on a new deal, but the veteran would have had the opportunity to head to the AFC North had Philadelphia allowed him to leave.
The Ravens had “significant interest” in signing Slay, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic (subscription required). That comes as little surprise on a number of fronts, given the five-time Pro Bowler’s pedigree and Baltimore’s need at the position. Slay was slated to hit the open market after he and the Eagles failed to agree to terms on a restructure to his existing contract. One day after it was reported he would be released, however, Slay inked a two-year deal to remain with the NFC champions.
In that brief window of opportunity, Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post confirms that Baltimore made a “concerted effort” to sign Slay. The 32-year-old would have been reunited with Dennard Wilson, who left the Eagles this offseason to become the Ravens’ new secondary coach. The latter was in consideration for Philadelphia’s defensive coordinator vacancy, but the team’s decision to look outside the organization led to his departure.
Slay himself confirmed that he nearly signed with the Ravens. “I was almost — this close — a Baltimore Raven,” Slay recently said on his Big Play Slay podcast (via Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk). Slay added that Baltimore offered him the money that he was seeking, but his preference was to remain with the Eagles. Because he and Philadelphia were able to work out the financials, he got his wish.
Slay enjoyed a highly productive season in 2022, earning a Pro Bowl nod for the second straight season. He totaled three interceptions and 14 pass deflections last year, putting up strong coverage numbers along the way. That would have made him an attractive option to not only the Ravens, but any number of other potential suitors in need of an addition at the CB spot. Baltimore certainly fits that description at the moment, however.
The Ravens have Marlon Humphrey on the books through 2026, but fellow starter Marcus Peters is a free agent. The latter missed all of 2021 with a torn ACL, and struggled this past season upon his return to the field. Given his downturn in production (Peters recorded only one interception, the lowest single-season total of his career), a deal worth much less than the three-year, $42MM one he played on upon arrival in Baltimore should be expected this time around.
Assuming he gets it from a new team, Peters’ departure would leave the Ravens in need of a starting-caliber boundary corner. Slay certainly would have fit that bill, but Baltimore is now tasked with either retaining Peters or looking elsewhere in free agency and/or the draft if they need to replace him.