Ronald Darby

Eagles Rumors: Darby, Agholor, RBs, Draft

With free agency opening less than a month from now, the Eagles still have work to do to move under the cap. They remain $16MM-plus over the projected 2019 salary ceiling. And it does not look like Philadelphia will be making cap room to bring back its most experienced cornerback. Ronald Darby is expected to depart in free agency, Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes. Darby spent two seasons in Philly but was only healthy for 1 1/2, tearing an ACL in mid-November. However, Darby will likely still draw extensive interest in free agency. It’s a thin corner class, with Robert Alford‘s $7MM-plus-per-year deal with the Cardinals illustrating that. Darby’s Eagles exit will leave Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, Jalen Mills, Avonte Maddox and 2018 waiver claim Cre’Von LeBlanc at corner.

Here’s the latest out of Philly:

  • One name to monitor when it comes time for cap casualties could be Nelson Agholor. With Golden Tate likely on his way out, Agholor would seem to be a player the Eagles would need next season. But the trade for Tate showed the Eagles wanted more than what Agholor was providing, Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap writes. While the former first-round pick nearly matched his 2017 receiving-yardage total, catching a career-high 64 passes for 736 yards, he comes at a $9.4MM cost via the fifth-year option. While the Eagles could work out an extension and lower that cap figure, cutting Agholor would save a big chunk of money.
  • A place the Eagles should look in the early rounds of the draft is running back, Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia writes. After a 12-year stretch of Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy leading the way, the Eagles have not featured the same punch in the backfield. While they did win a Super Bowl with a running back-by-committee approach, Zangaro expects the team to look at running backs with one of its two second-round picks. Of the Eagles’ most recent committee, Josh AdamsCorey Clement and Wendell Smallwood are under contract. Adams and Clement are ex-UDFAs, and Smallwood was a fifth-round pick.
  • As for Philadelphia’s first-round choice: it will likely be a lineman, per Zangaro. Despite the Eagles having a lot of money tied up in their offensive line, Jason Peters is now 37. If he does come back, 2019 will likely be the stalwart left tackle’s final season with the Eagles. On defense, the team may well let UFA-to-be Brandon Graham walk. The Eagles still have Michael Bennett, if he is not a cap casualty, and Derek Barnett. Chris Long wants to play in 2019 but isn’t certain about returning for a 12th season. Howie Roseman called this year’s glut of defensive line prospects “historic”, and the Eagles have drafted five first-round linemen already this decade. Eighteen of the past 25 Eagles first-round picks have gone to address the lines.

Eagles Place CB Ronald Darby On IR

Ronald Darby‘s season is officially over. ESPN’s Adam Caplan tweets that the Eagles have placed the cornerback on the injured reserve. The team has promoted cornerback De’Vante Bausby from the practice squad to take the open roster spot.

Darby injured his right knee during last week’s loss to the Cowboys, and he was later diagnosed with a torn ACL. Fortunately, it sounds like the 24-year-old will make a full recovery. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets that it was “a clean tear with no other issues or complications.” Prior to his injury, Darby was among the 30 best cornerbacks in the NFL this season, according to the advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus. In nine games this season, the defensive back had compiled 43 tackles, 12 passes defended, and one interception.

The Eagles are struggling at cornerback, as both Jalen Mills and Sidney Jones missed last weekend’s contest. The team rolled with four cornerbacks for the majority of the second half against Dallas: Avonte MaddoxRasul DouglasChandon Sullivan, and Cre’von LeBlanc.

Bausby, a 2015 undrafted free agent out of Pittsburgh State, has also had stints with the Chiefs and Bears during his brief career. In four career games, the 25-year-old has compiled 12 tackles.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles CB Ronald Darby Done For Year

Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby is out for the year with a torn ACL, the team announced on Monday. Darby injured his right knee in the third quarter against the Cowboys on Sunday and further testing confirmed the team’s worst fears. 

The Eagles were already without corners Sidney Jones and Jalen Mills on Sunday thanks to injuries, so the loss of Darby leaves them extra thin at cornerback. Before the injury, Darby started in all nine of the Eagles’ games and tallied 43 tackles plus one interception.

Darby was among the 30 best cornerbacks in the NFL this season, according to the advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus. The timing of his injury is especially rough with the Saints being the next team up on the schedule. After handing a 51-14 drumming to the Bengals – a game that cost defensive coordinator Teryl Austin his job – the Saints’ offense is looking as potent as ever.

The Eagles will likely sign at least one cornerback this week in order to improve their depth in the secondary. If Mills and Jones can’t play this week, they’ll have to rely on Rasul Douglas, fourth-round pick Avonte Maddox, UDFA Chandon Sullivan, and Cre’Von LeBlanc to pick up the slack.

Darby is in the final year of his rookie contract, so his season-ending injury could have a serious impact on his market. Before the ACL tear, Darby profiled as one of the best cornerbacks available in the spring.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Thomas, Bradford, Eagles, Reid

The Seahawks have indeed fined safety Earl Thomas, who missed practice for non-injury reasons for the second consecutive week. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that the Seahawks — who were considering imposing a substantial fine on Thomas last Sunday — fined the star defender for missing practice and for “other things.” Rapoport adds that “communication should increase going forward,” but it is presently unclear as to whether he is referring to communication between Thomas and Seattle or between Seattle and other clubs who may want to trade for Thomas. We heard earlier today that the Steelers were interested in Thomas, but there has been no communication between Seattle and Pittsburgh at this point.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter adds that the Seahawks are still asking for a second-round pick for Thomas, and that the Chiefs remain interested (though Kansas City does not want to give up a second-rounder). The Cowboys, of course, offered a second-round pick to Seattle earlier this year, but the Seahawks wanted more from Dallas at the time since the two teams were set to play each other last week. Now that the Cowboys-Seahawks matchup has taken place, perhaps the Seahawks will be more willing to consider the Cowboys’ offer, but Rapoport indicates (video link) that the Seahawks want two second round picks in exchange for Thomas, which seems like an especially lofty asking price.

Now for more from the NFC:

  • Sam Bradford is now the Cardinals‘ No. 3 quarterback, per Schefter, who says that going forward, rookie Josh Rosen will be the starter and will be backed up by Mike Glennon (Twitter link). That means that Bradford will generally be inactive on game days and will miss out on his active roster bonuses of $312,500 per game, a situation we explored in more detail last week.
  • Another tough blow for Rams outside linebacker Dominique Easley. Per the team’s official website, Easley, who has suffered three torn ACLs since 2011, may be heading for his fourth surgery in the last seven years. Head coach Sean McVay said that Easley, who converted to outside linebacker during training camp, is suffering complications from his previous injuries.
  • Prior to signing him a few days ago, the Panthers did not ask new safety Eric Reid about his anthem protests or his collusion case against the league, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. GM Marty Hurney said team ownership was not involved in the signing, and that it was a purely football move.
  • Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery will make his 2018 debut today, per ESPN’s Chris Mortensen (via Twitter). Rapoport (video link) reports that Jeffery’s status for this week was up in the air because of a virus that made him seriously ill, but that his shoulder is good to go.
  • As Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer observes, the Eagles have four prominent starters playing out the final year of their respective contracts: Jordan Hicks, Ronald Darby, Jay Ajayi, and Brandon Graham. Even if the Eagles wait until after the 2019 season to give quarterback Carson Wentz what will surely be a massive extension, Philadelphia has to plan for that contract now, which means the club will have some difficult decisions to make with respect to its impending free agents. McLane posits that Hicks is the most likely of the above-named players to be retained, and he examines the futures of all four players in detail.
  • Jane Slater of the NFL Network reports that Cowboys WR Terrance Williams will be inactive today, and that the recently re-signed Brice Butler will be leaned upon more heavily as a result (Twitter link). Williams, the most expensive receiver on Dallas’ roster, may be facing a suspension stemming from his May arrest and recently missed practice, though that absence was reportedly an excused one and was unrelated to the possible suspension. Williams, though, has just two catches for 18 yards this season, and the team wants to give someone else a shot.

NFC East Notes: Redskins, Scandrick, Eagles

The Redskins have moved on from cornerback Orlando Scandrick, but it’s not necessarily because of anything Scandrick did, coach Jay Gruden says.

It has nothing to do with his play. It was really the emergence of the rookies and [we] wanted Orlando to latch on to another team,” Gruden said via Kimberley A. Martin of the Washington Post (on Twitter). “No one could have predicted Ranthony Texada or Danny Johnson.”

With a deep group at cornerback headlined by Josh Norman, Quinton Dunbar, and Fabian Moreau, the Redskins felt that they could move on from Scandrick and save themselves millions in salary. However, they will not be able to recover the $1MM signing bonus they gave him in his two-year deal this offseason.

Here’s more from the NFC East:

  • The Dolphins are in search of cornerback help and Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com suggests Ronald Darby of the Eagles as a possible solution for Miami. Darby has lots of potential, but he’s set to be a free agent after the season and the Eagles’ have yet to sign him, so he might not be in Philly’s long-term plans. If the Eagles were to trade Darby, the could play Sidney Jones at outside cornerback rather than nickel cornerback. Then, to fill the hole at nickel, the Eagles could give more time to the likes of Avonte Maddox and De’Vante Bausby. The Eagles wouldn’t be as strong at cornerback without Darby, but this could be an opportunity for the Eagles to get something of value for him instead of letting him walk next year.
  • Giants coach Pat Shurmur isn’t sure if he’ll see fifth-round pick R.J. McIntosh on the field before the start of the season. Shurmur tells reporters (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Jordan Raanan) that the defensive lineman is looking at an “extended-rehab type situation,” which may be tied to his thyroid issue. It took a long time for McIntosh to sign with the Giants and it could take even longer for the Giants to find out what they have in the Miami product.

East Notes: Allen, Cooks, Eagles

Bills fans are anxiously looking forward to the inevitable ascension of Josh Allen, and Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News takes a look at the team’s quarterback competition with training camp fast approaching. A.J. McCarron and Nathan Peterman know that, if either of them start the season under center — and McCarron is generally seen as the favorite to open the year as the starting signal-caller — they would just be keeping the seat warm for Allen. Carucci notes that Allen’s natural talent was on full display throughout spring practices, and he adds that all three competitors have developed a friendship during their time together. The Buffalo News scribe examines each player’s case to start on Week 1, and he notably does not rule out any possibility at this juncture.

Now let’s take a look at a few more notes from the league’s east divisions:

  • Former Patriots receiver Brandin Cooks just inked a massive extension with the Rams, and Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says New England had a pretty good idea that Cooks, who was scheduled for unrestricted free agency at the end of the 2018 season, was going to get that kind of money given the robust state of the wide receiver market. However, the Patriots just did not value him that highly and were approaching this year as though it would be Cooks’ last in Foxborough. So, when presented with the opportunity to get a first-round pick for him this offseason, New England pounced.
  • Earlier today, the Patriots signed No. 31 overall pick Sony Michel.
  • Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com takes a look at 10 Giants who are in danger of being cut because of their salaries, the status of their position groups, or some combination thereof. Dunleavy’s list is headlined by guard John Jerry and defensive end Kerry Wynn.
  • Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman has made more trades than any other general manager since 2010, per Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com, who believes that Roseman will make more trades in the coming weeks. Shorr-Parks puts a potential return on each player on the roster, and he notes that Roseman would likely be open to moving Nick Foles and Brandon Graham, though it would take at least a first-round pick to acquire Foles and a third-rounder to land Graham.
  • In a separate piece, Shorr-Parks offers his take on the locks, longshots, and bubble players on the Eagles‘ roster as it currently stands. As Shorr-Parks has indicated previouslyRonald Darby is another trade candidate if De’vante Bausby continues to play well in training camp.

Suspension notes: Winston, Turbin, Colts, Darby

More information continues to trickle out about the suspensions handed down this week. One part of the Jameis Winston case that flew a bit under the radar was the involvement of Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby. When the allegations against Winston first surfaced last November, Darby came to Winston’s defense and insisted that Winston was innocent and said he was in the car during the Uber ride in question.

During the NFL’s investigation that followed, Darby reportedly backtracked. He told investigators he “no longer recalled” the Uber ride, per ProFootballTalk. Despite his initial defense of Winston and his now apparently conflicting statements, it looks like Darby is in the clear. An NFL spokesman told Aaron Kasinitz of PennLive that Darby “will not face punishment” from the league (Twitter link).

Here’s more on the recent suspensions:

  • Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star suspects that the Colts have known about Robert Turbin‘s four game suspension for a while. He notes that the team has deflected from talking about him all offseason and that the Colts have kept him away from the media (Twitter link).
  • Turbin’s suspension will cost him $235K according to Mike Chappell of Fox59. Chappell says “no one should understate the possible impact of Turbin’s absence” and writes that the Colts were counting on him to fill a big role with Frank Gore no longer with the team.
  • Between his base salary, portions of his signing bonus he’ll have to pay back, and loss of roster bonuses, Winston’s three game suspension will end up costing him a total of $1.14MM according to former NFL agent and current CBS Sports analyst Joel Corry (Twitter link). The total could rise to $1.42MM depending on how the roster bonuses are calculated, he notes.

Witness: Jameis Winston Was In Uber Vehicle Alone With Accuser

Another revelation came out of the Jameis Winston saga on Friday, and it could be viewed as damaging for the Buccaneers quarterback.

Mark Scruggs, attorney for a friend of Winston’s, Brandon Banks, said Winston did get into the car alone with the unnamed Uber driver that night in March 2016, when the accuser said Winston groped her. This came after the then-22-year-old quarterback was directed by friends to the Uber after being “unruly” at a Scottsdale, Ariz., nightclub. Scruggs said Banks saw an “intoxicated” Winston get into the car alone, which contradicts Ronald Darby‘s account that Winston was never alone with the driver, ESPN.com’s Paula Lavigne reports.

Banks, Winston and Darby were at the Scottsdale nightclub that night. This is the first time Banks, a former Vanderbilt football player, has been identified as being at the scene, Lavigne reports. Banks is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence after being found guilty of aggravated rape and aggravated sexual assault in June 2017 for an incident that occurred at Vanderbilt in 2013. Banks was awaiting trial in March of 2016.

Scruggs told ESPN that Winston, Darby and Banks were in a separate Uber that night, but that the driver who made the accusation against Winston was the one who picked him up from the nightclub. Banks did not confirm the driver’s account, though, since he was not in that particular Uber car. The driver said she and Winston were the only passengers.

It appeared that Winston was trying to lay this on Brandon,” Scruggs said, via Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, regarding his client’s reason for coming forward. “They were together that night. They took an Uber to a club, the three of them did, and Brandon said nothing whatsoever happened while the three of them were in the Uber. … For whatever reason, they felt they needed to put (Winston), escort him into an Uber so he could go home on his own. There’s two different Uber rides is what we’re talking about.”

Winston’s camp said the Uber driver was confused as to the number of people in the vehicle, and Darby said last year that he and Winston were in the backseat. The NFL is expected to suspend Winston for at least three games and did not view Darby’s account as entirely credible.

Some with the Buccaneers, and some close to Winston outside of the team, are “struggling to fathom” that he groped an Uber driver, Mike Jones of USA Today notes. But considering Winston’s past, most notably the 2012 rape accusation, the new information coming out about the March 2016 night makes it more likely Winston will serve at least a three-game suspension. And it could cloud his future with the Bucs.

Tampa Bay picked up the 24-year-old passer’s fifth-year option in May, but that $20.9MM 2019 salary is guaranteed for injury only. Now that he’s expected to miss the Bucs’ first three games, there will be immense pressure on the former No. 1 overall pick to shake the on-field inconsistency and while obviously avoid any additional off-field trouble.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Jameis Winston

Jameis Winston‘s suspension is not yet final, but the Buccaneers quarterback is expected to be banned for at least the first three games of this season. And the NFL looks to have determined the Ronald Darby explanation didn’t hold water, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com reports (video link).

Shortly after the unnamed accuser’s account of Winston groping her surfaced last November, Darby, who played with the former Heisman Trophy winner at Florida State, came forward with an explanation to help Winston. The veteran cornerback said he was in the car with Winston, with both Seminoles-turned-NFLers sitting in the backseat the entire time during the ride.

There were three of us in the car, not just one as has been reported,” Darby said in November. “Myself and Jameis were in the backseat. I am confident that nothing inappropriate in nature happened in the car that evening and Jameis did not have any physical contact with the Uber driver. The accusations are just not true.”

However, the NFL did not ultimately accept Darby’s explanation. The investigation, Garafolo reports, determined Darby was not in the vehicle during the entire trip. It’s not certain when Winston and Darby’s paths crossed that night in Arizona, but Garafolo reports the NFL believes there were multiple legs to this trip and does not believe both Winston and Darby were together in the car the whole time.

The league also examined electronic communications from the parties involved in the alleged incident that night in March 2016, with Garafolo noting this likely played a key role in Winston’s expected suspension.

As of now, Winston would be in line to miss a difficult part of Tampa Bay’s schedule. The Saints, Eagles and Steelers are the first three teams on the Bucs’ docket. Garafolo confirmed a Thursday-night report that more games could be tacked onto this based on certain conditions. The Bucs will face the Bears, Falcons and Browns from Weeks 4-6.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Spring Practice Notes: Jets, Darby, Ebron

Now that mandatory minicamps have wrapped up around the league and players have returned home for a few weeks, the NFL will experience something of a lull until we get closer to the start of training camp in July. In the past couple of days, however, beat writers have shared some lessons learned during spring practices, offered some insight as to what OTAs and minicamp revealed about the upcoming season, and discussed some questions that remain unanswered. So let’s dive right in:

  • Terrelle Pryor‘s injury concerns have been well-documented, but as Darryl Slater of NJ.com observes, the Jets are also dealing with injuries to CB Morris Claiborne and OLB Jordan Jenkins. Both Claiborne and Jenkins are expected to be ready for the start of training camp, while the status of Pryor and starting free safety Marcus Maye is still up in the air. Slater also wonders who will start at OLB alongside Jenkins. David Bass and Josh Martin are candidates, as is Lorenzo Mauldin, though Slater suggests Mauldin is on the roster bubble.
  • Slater also indicates that Henry Anderson may have the leg up in the battle for the Jets‘ starting defensive end position opposite Leonard Williams — New York desperately needs someone to take double teams away from Williams — and that Andre Roberts appears to be leading the competition for Gang Green’s punt returner job. He adds that wideout Chad Hansen has impressed this spring after being a non-factor in his rookie campaign last year.
  • Rich Cimini of ESPN.com also likes what he sees from Hansen, and he says TE Neal Sterling and RB Elijah McGuire are other under-the-radar players to impress for the Jets this spring. Sam Darnold, meanwhile, is very much on the radar, and Cimini says Darnold has done nothing to suggest he cannot be a quality starter in the NFL.
  • The most important lesson learned during the Eagles‘ spring practices, per Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer, is that Carson Wentz is progressing in his recovery from an ACL tear and could be ready to go in Week 1. However, as Berman points out, the defending champs have plenty of injury concerns outside of Wentz, though no key players appear at risk of missing any regular season time at this point.
  • Berman also writes that Jay Ajayi is the Eagles’ unquestioned No. 1 running back — in stark contrast to the summer of 2017, when the team was emphasizing a committee approach to the offensive backfield — and he names De’vante Bausby, Nate Gerry, and Dallas Goedert as young talents who have stood out in the spring. Gerry, a 2017 fifth-rounder who converted from collegiate safety to professional linebacker, could compete for a starting LB job this year, Berman says.
  • Speaking of Bausby, Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com is also impressed with the 25-year-old’s work this spring, which may be enough to allow the Eagles to trade Ronald Darby.
  • Seahawks‘ 2018 seventh-round pick Alex McGough stood out this spring and has a legitimate chance to be Russell Wilson‘s backup this year, per Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. Condotta also notes that Seattle’s first-round choice, Rashaad Penny, has looked the part and has also shown improvement in his pass-blocking technique, which will help him see more of the field this year.
  • TE Eric Ebron has been perhaps the most impressive newcomer for the Colts this spring, per Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star, who also says 2018 fourth-rounder Nyheim Hines was the most exciting rookie to watch. Hines, a running back from NC State, has the explosiveness and versatility to thrive in new head coach Frank Reich‘s scheme.
  • Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com says Harold Landry, the Titans‘ second-round draft choice this year, is living up to his draft pedigree and that, while he may have a hard time unseating veterans Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo as a starting OLB, he should see plenty of action as a situational pass rusher to begin his career. Wyatt also says Tennessee’s cornerbacks have been the most impressive position group of the spring.