Philadelphia Eagles: Will Ronald Darby’s accelerated recovery spark CB controversy?

(Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) /

After sharing workout videos on Twitter, should Ronald Darby’s accelerated recovery spark cornerback controversy for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2019?

When Ronald Darby went down with a season-ending torn ACL in Week 9 of the 2018 regular season, it looked like his career as a Philadelphia Eagles was all but over.

Sure, Darby was arguably the Birds’ most physically gifted cornerback on the roster, a 5-foot-11 burner who ran a 4.38 40 yard dash coming out of Florida State, but after only appearing in 17 games over his two-year tenure with the team, it seemed like a longshot that Howie Roseman would be willing to extend the 25-year old to a four-year, big money deal due to his well-documented injury history.

With their backs to the wall, or in this case, the salary cap ceiling, the Eagles really can’t afford to be startled with another Byron Maxwell, or Nnamdi Asomugha-esque contract.

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However, then the back half of the regular season went down, and that decision became just a bit more cloudy.

With both Darby and Jalen Mills landing on injured reserve by Week 10, the Eagles collection of your cornerbacks were on full display for the world to see, and their individual performances were inconsistent, to say the least.

For every game where Avonte Maddox, Rasul Douglas, or Sidney Jones looked like a potential starter in the making, there was another where they each looked lost, aimless, and like much more of a project than anyone in the 215 would like to admit.

Sometimes those swings would happen from snap to snap, too often maddening results.

Really, the only cornerback who elevated his performance considerably over the final six games of the season was waiver wire acquisition Cre’Von LeBlanc, who now looks like the team’s defacto starting slot corner for the foreseeable future.

As for the other three, they will in all likelihood take part in a knockdown drag-out brawl to win the CB2 spot across the field from Mills Island, with the other two returning to much smaller roles.

Does that make the Birds defense better than re-signing Darby? I’d venture to say no.

Now granted, the best decision would be for the Eagles to simply franchise tag Darby and give him one final season to see his worth before offering a long-term deal, but unfortunately, NFL teams can’t tag two players, and if they opt to attempt to sign-and-trade Nick Foles, Darby will hit the open market.

Will he earn a contract in the vein of Stephon Gilmore, his former Bills teammate in Buffalo who signed a five-year, $65 million to travel East to the New England Patriots? Maybe not, but in a league starved for starting-caliber cornerbacks, especially ones as athletically gifted as Darby, he will without a doubt be considered the top free agent at the position going into 2019, and will likely get overpaid as a result.

Especially after his recent Twitter activities.

That’s right, less than four months removed from his ACL injury Darby’s agent Tony Dandy posted a video of his rehab on Twitter, and looked pretty darn good.

Will Darby be 100 percent when the 2019 NFL season begins in September? Probably not, but he very well could be in the high 70s or even 80s, and that’s a whole lot better than what many teams trotted out in 2018, including the Eagles’ playoff defensive backfield. Can the Eagles afford to make the wrong decision in what could be their most vital offseason in years?

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We will find out in a few short days, as the 2019 NFL calendar year officially begins on March 4th at 4 pm.