Darius Slay is welcoming the challenge of being the big ticket for the Philadelphia Eagles secondary. It can be an unforgiving market when players don't live up to their massive contract, as others in the past can attest, and Slay -- putting him in a pressure-packed situation with his new club. Considering the Eagles also gave up a third- and fifth-round pick in 2020 for the right to award Slay such a deal, the expectation is he'll hit the ground running and improve upon what many view as a 2019 downturn.
For his part, however, he doesn't believe he took a step back whatsoever last season. Instead, the 29-year-old views it in entirely the inverse, noting his play was good enough to land him a third consecutive Pro Bowl nod.
Those who disagree point at regression following a career-best 2017 season that saw him reel in eight interceptions and 26 pass breakups, noting the decrease to three INTs in 2018 and only two in 2019. He's looking to either continue his dominant ways, or to improve upon them -- depending upon your view of his recent production -- when he touches down in Philadelphia. And he wants it to be known he's not shying away from shadowing any team's No. 1 wide receiver on any given week.
If anything, he's demanding the Eagles keep the pressure for him to perform turned all the way up.
"I love the challenge," Slay recently said in a conference call, via the Associated Press. "I kind of ask for it a lot because the fact that I want the game on me, and I want to help win the game. And if the best route to go about it is me traveling with a guy -- I'll do it. If the coach sees otherwise, if he says left or right, I'll want to do whatever to help the team win."
This is music to the head coach Doug Pederson's ears, particularly given how desperate the team was to fill the huge void at cornerback after being walked away from in free agency by former rival Byron Jones. So be it press coverage, zone, or full-on glueing himself to a specific wideout all game long -- Slay says bring it on. He's done it most of his career, and has no plans on stopping now that the bright lights of Philadelphia are beaming down on him.
"I can get up in a guy's face for the whole game," he said. "I can switch up my technique from off to press. I'm comfortable in anything I'm doing. I compete every play. I'm not scared.
"I'm not a cocky guy, just a confident guy. I feel like I just like to go play ball. I've been doing it the past four or five years and I've been very, very successful at it.
"If they need me to continue to do it, that's what I'll continue to do."