The team that eliminated the San Francisco 49ers are going through quite the overhaul.
Already having lost Javon Hargrave to a blockbuster $84 million deal to the 49ers during the league’s legal tampering period on Monday, March 13, the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles are now releasing Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay, with the defender himself announcing on the morning of Wednesday, March 15 that he’s on his way out.
“Nothing but love Philly!! Lets see where we heading next,” Slay posted.
The newest 49ers interior defender posted this cryptic response — which some will take to think he’s praying he comes join him in the Bay Area:
Even 49ers insider David Lombardi chimed in…wondering what the market will be for Slay.
49ers Cleared up Room in Last 24 Hours, Which Could Persuade Team to Pursue Slay
In the last 24 hours, the 49ers have accomplished the following after reaching the mega agreement with Hargrave: Restructured the contracts of cornerback Charvarius Ward and All-Pro insider linebacker Fred Warner — the latter getting his deal reworked on the evening of Tuesday, March 14 per ESPN NFL insider Field Yates.
But there’s more. The 49ers are losing six members of the league’s best defense to free agency. In the trenches, Hassan Ridgeway (Houston Texans), Samson Ebukam (Indianapolis) and Charles Omenihu (Kansas City) reached agreements elsewhere during the tampering period — with the edge rushers Ebukam and Omenihu getting their deals offered to them Tuesday.
Then there’s a significant hole in the secondary via Emmanuel Moseley. The former starting cornerback, who hasn’t allowed a touchdown his side since November 5, 2020, was offered a one-year, $6 million deal to join the Detroit Lions. The loss of “E-Man” could be enough to convince the 49ers to make a run at the veteran Slay.
49ers Analyst Writes About Potential of Slay in 49ers Red
One 49ers analyst already took a dive into the potential of Slay rejoining Hargrave in the Bay: Kyle Posey of SB Nation who wrote on Wednesday:
“Darius Slay, anybody? The Eagles couldn’t come to an agreement with Darius Slay to work out a restructured contract. Due to this, Philadelphia released the veteran cornerback.
Slay, an All-Pro, is 32, but hasn’t missed a game in the previous two seasons and is still at the top of his game. He’s an excellent cover cornerback who is competitive and in position on nearly every target.
Of course, if he wanted out of Philadelphia, then he’s looking for a bigger contract given how Slay’s performed the last two seasons. Slay’s base salary for ‘23 was scheduled to be $17 million before he was released. Could he ask for more? If there’s a team that could jump through the hoops of the salary cap and get a deal done, it’s the 49ers.”
Slay is an older cornerback at 32. However, he’s coming off his fifth Pro Bowl appearance after snatching three interceptions and surrendered just 46 catches on 79 targets for 532 yards per Pro Football Reference Advanced Stats. Slay, additionally, produced seven games of allowing 19 yards his side or less. Even in the Super Bowl loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, Slay surrendered 30 yards on four receptions but allowed one touchdown via PFR Advanced Stats.
The 49ers are stacked at CB with Ward putting together career-best numbers and Deommodore Lenoir breaking out late during the playoffs. Outside of both, Ambry Thomas and nickelback Samuel Womack are all that’s left in the CB room. Depth is a must moving forward.
Again, this is dependent on what Slay is willing to accept at this stage of his career (entering season 11) plus what S.F. can offer if interested. Slay could also run into not starting on the perimeter. But, with new defensive coordinator Steve Wilks running a lot of five DB sets and the 49ers rolling with that look under DeMeco Ryans, S.F. is still considered a fit and may be convinced to move Lenoir to a nickel role (played a similar role and a variety of positions at Oregon).
Adding Slay also can prove to 49er fans how aggressive this team is in wanting to top the Eagles atop the NFC and end their Super Bowl drought.