Philadelphia Eagles: Ronald Darby is no Quinton Dunbar

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

While Ronald Darby’s addition should help the Washington Redskins in 2020, the ex-Philadelphia Eagles cornerback is a downgrade from Quinton Dunbar.

After three (partial) seasons filled with a slew of ups, downs, and disappointment, Ronald Darby is officially no longer a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.

I know, I know, technically Darby hasn’t been a member of the Eagles since the league year officially started on March 25th, but by tentatively signing a deal to remain in the NFC East as a member of the Washington Redskins, any chance of another short-term reunion just flew out the window.

The price? $4 million on a one-year deal.

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Now on paper, that deal is pretty good for both parties – It looks really good compared to the $8.5 million deal the Eagles shelled out for another bite at the Darby apple – but it’s hard to say Washington got better in the process.

Allow me to elaborate.

You see, going into free agency, Washington had the inevitable task of attempting to get younger, cheaper and better in their defensive secondary.

Yikes, talk about a tough ask.

First, new VP of Player Personnel Kyle Smith made the logical decision to waive Josh Norman and remove $12.5 million off their books. While this move was mildly surprising, as Norman initially rose to prominence playing under Washington’s new head coach Ron Rivera back in Carolina, for the price, retaining a 32-year-old cornerback in the midst of a career decline made sense.

From there, the team released starting free safety Montae Nicholson (read more about that here) and opted to trade their best overall cornerback, Quinton Dunbar, to the Seattle Seahawks for a future fifth-round pick.

Sure, the team did restock the cupboard with a trio of young defenders in returning cornerback/safety hybrid Kendall Fuller, supersized free safety Sean Davis, and Darby, but is that trio really an upgrade?

Personally, I’d rather have Dunbar over Darby and a fifth, but that’s just me… and the Seattle Seahawks.

Measuring in at 6-foot-2, 202 pounds, with long arms and fantastic ball skills, Dunbar had a breakout season in 2019 in his first full(ish) season as a starter – picking off four passes as the team’s top matchup corner in 11 games of action.

Had Dunbar been a free agent, he likely would have commanded a deal in the ballpark of James Bradberry‘s three-year, $45 million deal, but he’s already agreed to a three-year extension worth a paltry $10.5 million total in 2018. In theory, Washington could have ripped up his deal and extended the homegrown corner to a long-term deal, but that reportedly wasn’t in the cards, and they instead made him available via trade.

After drawing comparisons to Richard Sherman from Ray Horton this offseason due to his length, playing style, and experience playing wide receiver in college, it’s no wonder the Seahawks were interested.

To be fair, Darby is no slouch either, as the Eagles traded a third-rounder and  Jordan Matthews to the Buffalo Bills for his services for a reason, but having 4.3 speed doesn’t really matter if you can’t stay on the field.

Over the last three seasons in South Philly, Darby has missed 23 games including two playoff bouts in 2018 and one in 2019. When actually on the field, Darby has routinely been brutalized by bad tackling while also allowing 93 catches for 1,300 yards and nine touchdowns over the last two seasons alone.

The Eagles clearly upgraded Darby’s spot with Darius Slay, and they paid handsomely for that honor.

Washington opted to go the other route, moving on from Dunbar and his potentially weighty third contract to prioritize cap flexibility, draft compensation and apparently, local players.

At 26, Darby could conceivably play himself into a new, long-term contract in the nation’s capital and moving on from Dunbar will be nothing but an answer to a trivia question, but why take that risk? Dunbar came to Washington as a college wide receiver, changed positions as a pro, and transformed himself into one of the more intriguing cornerback options in the NFL. Why move on from that for a player one year younger who hasn’t played a full season since, well never? Answer: You don’t, or at the very least shouldn’t.

Next. The third time’s the charm for a Brandin Cooks trade. dark

Update: In a weird twist of fate, it looks like Quinton Dunbar agrees with my analysis, as he had this to say on the Washington Redskins’ latest signing.