Ronald Darby

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.