Broncos CB Ronald Darby Out For Season

The fallout from the Broncos’ ugly Week 5 loss continues. After leaving the Colts matchup early, Ronald Darby will not be back for his team this season. The veteran cornerback suffered an ACL tear, Nathaniel Hackett confirmed Friday.

This news comes hours after word of Garett Bolles‘ broken leg. The Broncos are closing the door on their left tackle playing again this season as well. Bolles will not come back from the lower-leg fracture┬áhe sustained late in Thursday night’s game. Considering the injuries the team has already encountered, this is becoming quite the toll for a squad amid a rocky start.

Part of Denver’s 2021 secondary overhaul, Darby joined the team as a midlevel free agent. The former Bills, Eagles and Washington corner signed a three-year, $30MM deal with the Broncos in March 2021. He joined Kyle Fuller and Pat Surtain II as new corner investments in Denver last year. Darby and Surtain have operated as the Broncos’ starting outside corners this season. The former will soon join Justin Simmons and Randy Gregory as Denver defensive starters on IR. While the latter two will be back, Darby being shut down will test the Broncos’ Surtain-fronted cornerback corps.

Injuries have been a problem for Darby throughout his career. Most notably, he suffered an ACL tear during his second Eagles season (2018). Darby’s Eagles tenure started off on the wrong foot as well; he dislocated an ankle in September 2017. While Darby re-emerged to be part of Philadelphia’s Super Bowl-winning defense, his 2018 ACL tear affected his free agency value. He settled for a one-year, $6.5MM accord in 2019 and then signed a one-year, $3MM deal with Washington in 2020. Darby, who did not miss a game in 2020, scored $19.5MM guaranteed from the Broncos last year.

Darby, 28, will end his second Broncos season with 18 combined games missed. He battled hamstring trouble last season but started the 11 games he played. The former Bills second-rounder was faring well to start this season, helping a stout Broncos defense minimize opposing offenses (while Denver’s offense scuffles through a rough acclimation period). But this injury will cloud Darby’s future with the team.

The Broncos can save $10MM by releasing Darby in 2023, when he is set to count $13MM toward their cap. The team will likely get an extensive look at rookie Damarri Mathis, who replaced Darby against the Colts. A fourth-round pick out of Pittsburgh, Mathis moved into position as the Broncos’ top backup corner after third-year player Michael Ojemudia suffered a preseason injury. Ojemudia, who missed most of 2021 with a hamstring ailment, remains on IR.

As of Friday, the following Broncos starters are on IR or have missed multiple games: Darby, Bolles, safety Justin Simmons, running back Javonte Williams, outside linebacker Randy Gregory and right guard Quinn Meinerz. Both members of Denver’s would-be right tackle competition — Tom Compton, Billy Turner — have not played yet this season, either. Hackett said Josey Jewell, who missed time earlier this season, is now week-to-week with a knee injury as well. Thursday’s round of setbacks will make the Broncos’ uphill battle steeper.

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