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Lions sign CB Darius Slay to 4-year, $50.2 extension through 2020

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Darius Slay fought it at first. He didn't want to cry, even though it was one of the more emotionally happy days for the Detroit Lions cornerback. He wanted to hold it in and then, he couldn't anymore.

So in the moments after he signed a four-year extension -- sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter the deal is worth $50.2 million -- Slay broke down and cried.

"I tried to hold the tears in, but I couldn't too long, just because of where I came from," Slay said. "Shed a couple tears, talked to [Glover Quin]. Cried on GQ's shoulder for a second. He's seen me as a pup, as a young guy, saw me coming up and doing this right now, give credit to him and [Rashean Mathis].

"They built me up into the guy I am."

After Slay signed the deal, he said he first told Quin. Then he called Mathis, who mentored him during his first three seasons in the league before retiring this offseason. Then Slay had to get back to work, so he didn't even get a chance to call his mom to tell her the news.

He figures she knows by now.

"She probably saw it on ESPN," Slay said. At the end of last season, Slay said he wanted to remain in Detroit for a long time -- part of the reason he wanted to get a deal done before the start of training camp.

This offseason, Slay switched agents from the late Eugene Parker to Drew Rosenhaus and made it clear he wanted to get a deal done to stay with the Lions.

The deal also marks the Lions' first major extension under new general manager Bob Quinn.

Slay, 25, emerged as one of the best corners in the NFC last season, when he had 58 tackles and two interceptions. By the end of last season, teams were actively throwing away from Slay as he began to earn a reputation as a shutdown cornerback.

By the end of last season, Slay was traveling on the field, covering the opponent's top receiver on every play. He came a long way from his rookie season in 2013, when he was benched for free agent Rashean Mathis, who eventually became Slay's mentor on and off the field.

Slay rebounded to become a starter in 2014 and then an emerging star last season. He also knows that the key to making a bigger name for himself is to create turnovers.

"I've got to have interceptions," Slay said in June. "I gots to have 'em. I'll be knocking the ball down, do all that. When it's time to make the big plays, turn the ball over, I need to be a turnover machine. That's what Richard Sherman is. That's what [Patrick Peterson] is. That's what all the best ones do; they just turn the ball over."

Slay has four career interceptions and has focused on his hands this offseason, often catching balls off the JUGS machine after practices and working on catching the ball whenever he has some downtime.

"It was something that we wanted to get done as soon as possible, ideally before training camp started," said Lions team president Rod Wood. "I'm really, really glad that it worked out. A lot of people worked really hard on it from our side and Darius' side, and I'm glad it got done."

Wood said "that's the plan," in terms of re-signing their own guys to stick around long-term after building through the draft. He said "it's a lot easier when you know the guy."

After losing Ndamukong Suh in free agency in 2015 and having Calvin Johnson retire this year, Wood said there was no added pressure to make sure Slay's contract was done well before he would reach free agency, but that Slay did "earn his contract" and the team is glad the extension is done.