Ronald Darby

Ronald Darby To Sign With Redskins

The Redskins and veteran cornerback Ronald Darby are in agreement on a one-year, $4MM deal, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Darby has spent the last three seasons with the division-rival Eagles, though all three of those seasons have been marred to some degree by injury. He played in only eight games in 2017, nine in 2018, and 11 in 2019. The 2018 season was cut short by an ACL tear, but he was at least playing at an above-average level prior to the injury. The same cannot be said for his 2019 effort, as Darby never seemed to get into a rhythm even when he was on the field.

Indeed, despite the league-wide need for corners, we had not heard of any interest in Darby before he agreed to terms with Washington. He will, however, have a good opportunity to rebuild his value in 2020. The ‘Skins signed fellow CB Kendall Fuller to a lucrative free agent pact earlier this month, but aside from the middling Fabian Moreau, there is not much depth behind Fuller.

A 2015 second-round pick of the Bills, Darby quickly established himself as a starting-caliber CB in Buffalo before being traded to Philadelphia in exchange for a third-round pick and wide receiver Jordan Matthews. He generated a fair amount of free agent interest last offseason before agreeing to return to Philadelphia on a one-year, $8.5MM pact. He will now help to fill the void left by Quinton Dunbar, whom Washington recently traded to Seattle.

In his career, the Florida State product has started 56 of a possible 57 games and has picked off eight passes. He also captured a Super Bowl ring in his first season with the Eagles.

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Eagles To Pursue CBs In Free Agency

The Eagles are expected to “go hard” after cornerbacks in free agency, Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network hears. Philadelphia is projected to have around $44MM in cap space, and the club plans to use a big chunk of that on a CB or two.

The Broncos’ Chris Harris and the Cowboys’ Byron Jones are two of the biggest names being thrown around, and assuming they do not re-up with their current clubs, they will hit free agency with a good shot at a top-of-the-market deal (i.e. $15MM+ per year with upwards of $45MM in full guarantees). However, the Eagles will leave no stone unturned in their efforts to upgrade their CB corps, per Pauline.

Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby are also eligible for free agency, and it’s unclear if the Eagles will bring back either player. They may explore a multiyear deal with Mills, who played decently after returning from injury in Week 7, but it would not be a surprise to see them part ways with Darby. Plus, as Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94WIP.com writes, Philadelphia does not consider Rasul Douglas or Sidney Jones starter material, and both are trade candidates.

As such, there will clearly be room for several cornerbacks on the Eagles’ 2020 roster. In 2019, the team finished in the middle of the pack in terms of pass defense efficiency, per Football Outsiders, and in passing yards allowed per game, so an upgrade is in order. Of course, they did their best to swing a trade for a quality CB (including Harris) at this year’s trade deadline, but they ultimately did not want to part with the type of draft capital that such a trade would have required.

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Eagles Make Handful Of Roster Moves

The Eagles made a few roster moves Tuesday. Philly is signing tight end Richard Rodgers and promoting receiver Deontay Burnett from the practice squad, the team announced. To make room on the active roster, they officially waived running back Jay Ajayi and placed cornerback Ronald Darby on injured reserve.

Rodgers was with the Eagles in camp, but was placed on injured reserve in August and released with an injury settlement shortly after. He first signed with Philadelphia in 2018 and spent last year with the team, catching only one pass in seven games. The best year of his career came back in 2015 with the Packers, when he caught 58 passes for 510 yards and eight touchdowns. His signing could indicate that the Eagles aren’t too optimistic about having starter Zach Ertz for their Week 17 game against the Giants. Ertz is dealing with a fractured rib that he suffered during their big win over the Cowboys.

Thanks to the victory against Dallas the Eagles are in the drivers seat, but they still need a win in their finale to clinch the NFC East. Darby went down with a hip injury, and there was some initial hope he’d be able to return for the playoffs. Obviously, that turned out not to be the case, and Rasul Douglas will slide into the starting lineup in his place. Darby is dealing with a grade 2 hip flexor strain that fortunately won’t require surgery and will only knock him out for about a month, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

We heard yesterday they were planning on waiving Ajayi, so that move was only a formality. Burnett is a 2018 UDFA from USC, who signed to their practice squad a couple of weeks ago after being cut from San Francisco’s taxi squad. Given the state of the Eagles’ depleted receiving corp, it’s highly possible he finds himself playing significant snaps.

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Eagles’ Ronald Darby Suffers Hip Injury

Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby is dealing with a strain in his hip and is expected to miss a couple weeks, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The good news is that Darby does not need surgery, so he’s looking at a recovery timetable that will be measured in weeks, rather than months. 

At minimum, it sounds like Darby will be sidelined for the Eagles’ regular season finale against the Giants. But, with some luck, he’ll be able to rejoin the team for the playoffs, if they qualify. A win against the Giants will lock the Eagles in for the NFC East title. If they lose, they’ll need the Redskins to beat the Cowboys in order to make the playoffs.

This isn’t Darby’s first time getting banged up this season, as he missed four games earlier this year when Philly’s secondary was truly in shambles. He’s struggled with health issues in each of his three seasons with the Eagles now, as he played in only nine games last year and eight in 2017.

Darby hadn’t been playing that well this season, but he’s still a full-time starter and it’s a big blow to the defense. Head coach Doug Pederson announced that Rasul Douglas will start opposite Jalen Mills in Darby’s place. Darby will be a free agent this spring, and it’s highly possible that the 2015 second-round pick of the Bills has played his last down as an Eagle.

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NFC East Notes: Cowboys, Redskins, Eagles

The Cowboys may be without their top wide receiver when they face the Eagles in a key NFC East battle on Sunday night. Amari Cooper left Sunday’s loss to the Jets after only three snaps due to a quadriceps injury, and while the issue isn’t getting any worse, it could derail his availability for Week 7, according to Todd Archer of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Despite missing nearly all of Week 6, Cooper still ranks fifth in the NFL in receiving yards (515) and is tied for second with five receiving touchdowns. Cooper hasn’t practiced this week, another indication that he’ll be either out or limited for Dallas’ showdown with Philadelphia.

Here’s more from around the NFC East:

  • Redskins quarterback Alex Smith has undergone an astounding 17 surgeries on his broken right leg, as Thom Loverro of the Washington Times writes. Last December, a report indicated Smith had gone under the knife six times, so either that report was inaccurate, or Smith has undergone an additional 11 surgeries this calendar year. Ben Standing of The Athletic caught Smith throwing with team officials at Fedex Field on Monday, an encouraging sign. Smith, who was confined to a wheel chair for four months post-surgeries, indicated as recently as June that he wants to play in the NFL again.
  • Under interim head coach Bill Callahan, the Redskins are making a number of changes, and the club is feeling more upbeat as a result, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. One such change was making quarterback Colt McCoy a healthy scratch against the Dolphins on Sunday, reports Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com. McCoy, who started Washington’s Week 5 loss to the Patriots, is possibly viewed as former head coach Jay Gruden‘s “guy,” per Breer, which may have played a role in his inactive status. McCoy joined the Redskins in 2014, the same year as Gruden.
  • Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby returned as a limited practice participant on Wednesday, tweets Mike Kaye of NJ.com. Darby has missed Philadelphia’s past three games after suffering a hamstring injury against the Lions in Week 3. The Eagles can use all the help they can get at cornerback — they’ve given up the most touchdowns to wide receivers of any team in the NFL (11), and only the Buccaneers have allowed more yardage to opposing wideouts.

Eagles’ Ronald Darby To Miss Time

The 1-2 Eagles will try to fly without Ronald Darby for a little while. The cornerback suffered a hamstring injury on Sunday and is expected to miss at least a few games, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. Meanwhile, based on what Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter) is hearing, he wouldn’t be surprised if Darby misses “about a month or so.” 

The Eagles will need all of the defensive firepower they can get, particularly if their offensive woes continue. If they’re willing to get aggressive – and Howie Roseman usually is – there’s a cornerback by the name of Jalen Ramsey who is on the trade block.

Darby, 25, registered four interceptions across 17 games for the Eagles in 2017 and 2018. Before the injury bug bit him yet again, he added another INT to the resume in Week 2 against the Falcons.

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East Notes: Patriots, LaCosse, Jets, Eagles

Now that Austin Seferian-Jenkins is out of the picture, the Patriots seem likely to go with Matt LaCosse are their top tight end in Week 1, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe writes. The Patriots made a minor splash by signing Ben Watson earlier this offseason, but he’ll have to sit on the sidelines for the first four games of the season due to his PED violation. That leaves LaCosse, blocking tight end Ryan Izzo, and UDFA Andrew Beck, and LaCosse is the best pass catcher of the bunch.

LaCosse hasn’t produced much at the pro level, but there’s reason to believe that he can be a late bloomer. LaCosse saw 38% of the Broncos’ snaps last year and he could be poised to take another step forward in 2019.

If LaCosse doesn’t cut it in camp, Volin speculates that the Patriots could explore a trade for Kyle Rudolph, though it would require some salary cap magic. The Patriots could also kick the tires on former Texans tight end Ryan Griffin, who would seem to be a fit for the system.

Here’s more from the East divisions:

  • Former Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan got a little too cute in the draft and wound up losing out on one of his mid-round targets, Manish Mehta of the Daily News hears. The Jets had their eyes on Arkansas interior lineman Hjalte Froholdt with the third pick of the fourth round (No. 105 overall) before moving down to the No. 116 pick in order to add a fifth-round pick to their arsenal. Then, they traded down yet again to No. 121, allowing the Pats to scoop up Froholdt with the No. 118 pick. Maccagnan’s maneuvering also cost the club Oklahoma offensive lineman Dru Samia, another target of the team who could have helped at the center position. After all that movement, they wound up settling for West Virginia blocking tight end Trevon Wesco at No. 121 overall.
  • Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby is still aiming to play in Week 1 and expects to participate in training camp, Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Darby has missed 17 games (counting the postseason) since joining the Eagles prior to the 2017 season.

Contract Details: Vaccaro, Callahan, Okafor

Let’s take a look at the details of a few recently-signed NFL contracts, with all links going to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle’s Twitter account:

Eagles Re-Sign CB Ronald Darby

Ronald Darby is returning to Philly. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the 25-year-old cornerback is re-signing with the Eagles. It will be a one-year deal for Darby worth $8.5MM (via Rapoport on Twitter).

The cornerback had additional suitors, including the Chiefs, with whom he met this week. Other teams were interested in Darby as well, with Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweeting he discussed one-year and multiyear deals as well.

However, Darby decided to opt for a one-year deal with a familiar franchise as he works his way back from an ACL tear. The former second-rounder underwent surgery in November, so there’s a chance that he won’t be ready for the start of the regular season.

Darby started all nine of his appearances in 2018, compiling 43 tackles, 12 passes defended, and one interception. However, an ACL tear ended his season prematurely, forcing him to sit out the second half of the campaign. Despite his injury, Darby still earned high marks from Pro Football Focus; the site ultimately ranked him 39th among 112 eligible cornerbacks.

If Darby is forced to miss any time, the Eagles have enough depth to get by. Rasul Douglas and Jalen Mills are currently projected as the team’s starters, while the team is also rostering Sidney JonesCre’Von LeBlanc, and Chandon Sullivan.

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Chiefs To Host Ronald Darby

The Chiefs will meet with free agent cornerback Ronald Darby tonight, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link), who adds Darby could sign this evening if the visit goes well.

Darby was arguably top free agent corner available when the legal tampering opened on Monday, and he’s now without question the best CB remaining on the market. Cornerback contracts haven’t gotten out of hand this offseason, but that’s largely due to an uninspiring crop of available options.

Still only 25 years old, it’s possible Darby is searching for a long-term pact. But it’s also just as likely that he’s looking for one-year, pillow deal after he missed half of last season with a torn ACL. Health has actually been a question in each of the past two years, as Darby has only appeared in 17 games since 2017.

When has been on the field, however, Darby has been effective. In his limited work last season, for example, Darby finished 11th in Football Outsiders’ success rate, meaning he was excellent at stopping opposing receivers short of the sticks. Pro Football Focus graded Darby as the league’s 39th-best corner, squarely within the top 25% of the league.

Kansas City’s pass defense improved as the 2018 season progressed and ultimately finished 12th in DVOA, but there’s no question the club needs cornerback help. The Chiefs already lost Steven Nelson to the Steelers earlier this week, while Orlando Scandrick is also a free agent. KC’s cornerback depth chart is currently topped by Kendall Fuller and Charvarius Ward.

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