The first wave of free agency is far in the rear view mirror, but the Redskins aren’t done adding value deals just yet.
The Washington Redskins‘ free agency methodology quickly became clear at the turn of the new year. The team seldom swung for the fences, and when they did, they came up just short. So instead, they dove into the bargain bin, adding low-risk, high-upside signings on short, cheap contracts. It’s a smart mode to operate in for a rebuilding team, and it’s also one that can be preserved long-term.
Case in point: A few weeks have now passed since the start of free agency, and the Redskins have made another signing in a similar vein to the ones before. According to ESPN senior NFL reporter Jeremy Fowler, the Redskins have signed former Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby to a deal. Per Fowler, the deal is a one-year contract worth $4 million.
Darby joins a thin cornerback group that, until this signing, had only Fabian Moreau and Kendall Fuller listed as starters for the 2020 season, with Moreau’s long-term status uncertain itself. At face value, Darby brings an intriguing blend of experience and youth, but Ron Rivera and his staff will have work to do if they want to glean more consistency from Darby’s upside.
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Darby, who recently turned 26 years old, is certainly an athlete. At the 2015 NFL Combine, Darby logged a 4.38 40-yard dash and a 41.5-inch vertical at 5-foot-11, 193 pounds. Darby has the athleticism to be a premier starter on the outside, and he’s shown flashes of being just that, but things haven’t panned out for him over the course of his career.
After starting off on a high note in Buffalo, with a rookie season that saw Darby tally two interceptions and 21 pass deflections, Darby was eventually traded to the Eagles, where a slew of injuries, including a concussion, a dislocated ankle, and a torn ACL, prevented him from finding any sort of consistency.
In a perpetually uncertain secondary, Darby kept receiving opportunities, but the stats tell of his bipolar on-field product: Over the past two seasons, he’s logged three interceptions and 23 pass deflections, but also allowed over 1,200 yards and nine touchdowns, including 705 yards and six scores in 11 games in 2019. Darby’s PFF grade in 2019 was 45.9, a strikingly low figure that encapsulates his frustrating play.
Nothing will be given to Darby in Washington, as his record gives him no such security, but if Darby can get to full health over the course of the offseason, he has a chance to lock down a starting job. His athleticism has allowed him to produce in spite of injury issues, and for a mere $4 million, this is a good get for the Redskins.