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In-housekeeping: How crucial is it to re-sign Ronald Darby? originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
This week, for their "In-housekeeping" series, JP Finlay and Pete Hailey examine how Washington should approach the major questions related to players currently on the roster. Next up: Ronald Darby.
The cornerback signed with Washington last April. This March, his one-year agreement will expire. So, how necessary is it for the club to bring him back?
Here's how Pete and JP see the situation.
When it's JP's turn, he's going to tell you that I recently compared Darby to a mix of Champ Bailey and Charles Woodson. That's not true. Don't let him tell you that.
However, I do think I value what Darby did in 2020 more than my colleague below.
Darby conquered the health issues that had plagued him during his time in Philly and appeared in all 16 contests for Washington, knocked away 16 passes and posted a better completion percentage against than his fellow defensive back, Kendall Fuller. He also surrendered just one touchdown, per Pro Football Reference, while Fuller gave up six.
Now, Darby's never been a major help in the turnover department, and in his debut campaign in Washington, he went interception-less. That said, he was fond of Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio's defensive scheme from the start, which showed in his overall performance, the lack of picks notwithstanding.
The DB signed a prove-it deal last offseason and went on to prove it. In my mind, Washington would be wise to lock him up longer this time around. He's still just 27, the depth chart behind him is dicey and he wants to be here. This shouldn't be that complicated.
Can somebody conquer health issues? Is that a thing? Darby played 16 games for the first time ever in his career in the 2020 season. That's great, but considering he's been in the NFL since 2015, I'm not sure that can be relied upon.
Darby certainly had a productive season and nobody is trying to knock him. He's got talent, and it showed in spurts, but there were also times the opposition targeted him on the field. Playing cornerback in the NFL is hard.
Going forward, it is fine if Washington brings back Darby; he was a major contributor to a top-five defense in 2020. But let's not convince ourselves that bringing back Darby is make or break for the defense, either.
Washington likely needs to look outside the organization for cornerback help, maybe even in both free agency and the draft. Fabian Moreau is also a free agent, and Rivera and Del Rio clearly favored Darby. Bringing back the former Bills' second-rounder makes sense, at a price, but don't be surprised if there's major turnover at the CB group as a whole.