Cornerback Ronald Darby entered free agency this month hoping to strike it rich, but with Darby still recovering from ACL surgery, the sort of contract he was looking for just didn’t materialize. That was good news for the Eagles, who announced Friday that Darby will return on a one-year deal.
Financial terms weren’t disclosed, but earlier Friday, former NFL defensive end Antwan Odom tweeted that Darby would return to the Birds for one year and $8.5 million -- quite a bargain price for a starting-quality corner who just turned 25 in January.
Injuries have marred both of Darby’s Eagles seasons, since the team acquired him in a 2017 trade with Buffalo. Darby missed eight games in 2017 with a dislocated ankle. Last season, he went down with a torn right ACL in a Nov. 11 loss to Dallas.
In terms of talent, Darby was near the top of the free agent corner market, but he won’t be ready for spring or summer work, which would put him way behind in learning a new defense. It’s possible Darby won’t be ready for the start of the regular season. The Eagles seem to like the other five corners they have under contract, so there probably won’t be a lot of pressure there.
If Darby can be healthy for the bulk of the 2019 season he will set the table for another crack at free agency next spring, or, conceivably, he could sign a longer-term deal with the Eagles in the interim.
Darby visited this week with the Kansas City Chiefs and former Eagles coach Andy Reid, amid speculation that he would sign there if his knee checked out.
Earlier this week, Darby appeared on the podcast of NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport, and Darby said his preference would be to remain with the Eagles.
“My mindset right now is continue to work, continue to rehab. We’re just preparing for Week 1 ... I’m just playing everything by ear," Darby said. "You know, the Eagles really want me to stay where I’m at. So me and my agent, we’re just playing everything out.