In their first mandatory practice of the offseason, the Lions are missing two of their best players.
Darius Slay and Damon Harrison will not report for minicamp as the two stars angle for new deals.
Asked about the duo's absence prior to his team's first practice Tuesday, Matt Patricia said, "It’s not uncharted territory from that aspect of it, so we’re just focused on the guys that are here."
As Patricia said earlier this offseason, he's had "great players on my defenses" fail to report for team activities in the past. But the Lions are into the mandatory portion of their offseason now, meaning this situation could get contentious -- especially if it drags into training camp, which begins in late July.
Slay and Harrison, who are represented by the same agent, each have two years remaining on their current deals. Slay, 28, has a base salary of $12.5 million in 2019 and $10 million in 2020, while Harrison, 30, is looking at $6.75 million in 2019 and $9 million in 2020.
As two of the top defensive players in the NFL, they can both claim to be underpaid, Harrison more than Slay.
Their absence from minicamp doesn't set a good tone for the rest of the team, nor does it help the defense get off on the right foot.
"For us, we roll with different situaitons that occur all the time during the season -- injuries, guys here, not here, whatever the case may be -- so internally it doesn’t really affect us," Patricia said. "We have great opportunities for guys that are here, great opportunities for people to step up and get better and be in positions to have an opportunity. We’ll just go out and improve what we’re doing on the field. That's really the biggest point for us.
"It’s not anything for us that is unusual. We’re used to having guys out of practice through the course of the season anyway, so we’re just going to go out and try to get better with the guys that are out there."
Asked if he's disappointed in the fact Slay and Harrison aren't reporting, Patricia said, "I don’t really talk about any of that stuff as far as contract situations."
For Slay and Harrison, the decision won't come without a cost. They both already forfeited $250,000 in workout bonuses for sitting out OTAs, and they're subject to fines of up to $89,000 for skipping minicamp.