Dealing for Darby Isn’t in the Cards
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Any trade rumors you may have heard regarding Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby were speculative.
The smoke of a contract year for Darby, depth at his position, the realization that good players often get paid like great ones when they hit the open market, and the former Florida State standout being on the periphery of another Jameis Winston mess never met the substance of calling around to gauge interest because Darby had such a terrific offseason, something Jim Schwartz noted on Monday.
"He's had, if not the best, one of the best, offseason’s of any of our players, going back to the first day of phase one and then phase two, phase three, minicamp, training camp," the defensive coordinator said. "He’s been very consistent. Came to us late last year, was sort of thrown into the fire, then got hurt and missed a lot of time. It was a difficult situation. We're really excited about where he is."
For now, Darby is starting on the outside opposite Jalen Mills as Schwartz rolls bodies inside to find his best nickel CB with Sidney Jones, De'Vante Bausby, rookie Avonte Maddox and even Mills getting some time there in training camp and Malcolm Jenkins serving as the break-glass-in-case-of-emergency option.
Add Rasul Douglas to the mix and the Eagles are about as deep as any team at CB but Schwartz doesn't have to rewind far to realize how it felt when his defense wasn't well-stocked at the position.
Just over a year ago before Darby came to Philadelphia in the Jordan Matthews deal, Sidney Jones was in the midst of a long rehab, Rasul Douglas was just a third-round rookie and Patrick Robinson was struggling on the outside, CB was regarded as the Achilles heel of the team to most observers.
"Things that have never been said in the NFL: ‘I have too many pass rushers. I have too many good corners,’" Schwartz joked. "Those are things that defensive coordinators, defenses in general, value. You need to be built for the long haul. There’s going to be injuries. It was well-documented last year, injuries that we had. Part of filling those was having good depth."
In other words, Darby, perhaps the team's best CB, isn't going anywhere and if it were up to Schwartz you could write that in pen.
It's not, of course, and executive VP of football operations Howie Roseman has to weigh 2019 and even 2020 as he cobbles together the 53-man roster with input from personnel chief Joe Douglas as well as Doug Pederson and his staff.
Roseman could always be bowled over by a desperate team but any calls regarding Darby are incoming right now and the Eagles have no interest in moving him.
"The coaches see it, the players see it. He's playing with confidence," Schwartz said of Darby. "I think the last step he needs to do is he needs to turn those PBUs into interceptions. PBUs are great, but interceptions are game-changing plays. He's working really hard at it. We're excited where he is."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen