It was October of 2019. The Lions were coming off their third straight loss. It was the second year under head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn.
And then it happened. They traded the team’s starting safety and team captain, Quandre Diggs, to Seattle -- for a fifth round pick. Diggs had just signed a contract extension.
“I was blindsided by it, honestly,” Diggs said that week. So were Lions fans. How could the Lions just trade away their starting safety for peanuts, six games into the season? Were we missing something?
Or maybe this is the “Patriot way,” and you know, we were just too dumb to understand it. Our silly little brains.
A week after the Diggs trade, he told the Detroit Free Press that he thought the trade was a control issue. “Them wanting to control the locker room. Control the locker room, control voices in the locker room.” Diggs went on to say that his vocal leadership style probably resulted in him being singled out as an issue.
The “Patriot way,” shut up and play. And it was only the start.
At the end of the 2019 season, Lions star cornerback Darius Slay, a fan-favorite and one of the clearcut best shutdown corners in the league, was due for a contract extension.
Slay was close with Diggs. After the Diggs trade, Slay said the trade showed him that “nobody’s safe,” and called the trade “bull----” on Twitter. “This one hit me bra.”
“We’ve been playing together five years,” Slay said. “Shoot, team captain, so I mean, for that to happen it’s kind of crazy but I guess that’s the business part of it. That was crazy, though.”
After the Diggs trade, it seemed inevitable the Slay would be moved, too. You know, the locker room culture needed to be more in control, the “Patriot way,” just shut up and play. And we were all right.
Quinn traded Slay to Philadelphia for two draft picks, and Slay signed a new contract with the Eagles that made him the highest-paid cornerback in the league at the time.
It didn’t work, of course. Patricia and Quinn would end up being fired, rightfully so, after the end of the 2020 season.
Slay would go on to play great football in Philadelphia. He remains a top-10 corner in the league, and showed off some veteran skills on Monday Night Football this week vs. one of the league’s top wide-outs, Vikings star Justin Jefferson.
Diggs has done the same. He’s been in the top five for interceptions for the last two seasons. He’s one of Seattle’s defensive leaders.
Quinn and Patricia set back the Detroit football culture perhaps more than any of our failed front office regimes of the last two decades. They brought in a bunch of players who would listen to them, who were used to being treated like crap, but they couldn’t put it together on the field, shockingly.
They traded away two defensive cornerstone pieces for a Lions defense that is so desperately always in need of cornerstone pieces. And for what? For ego. For locker room power.
Why am I bringing this up, you ask? Because they deserve to be remembered for these two trades specifically, as we watch both Slay and Diggs play high level football every season, in other jerseys.
And yes, I’m still bitter.