The New York Giants are set to embark on their most important offseason in recent memory. The decisions made by general manager Dave Gettleman this spring will be critical in determining whether Big Blue can continue confidently on their current path, or if they’ll have to press the reset button once again. With that in mind, let’s examine the potential free agents that could propel this team to playoff contention.
The player under consideration today is Washington Football Team cornerback Ronald Darby.
Originally a second-round draft pick by the Buffalo Bills back in 2015, Darby has played for three teams over six NFL seasons. After two solid years in Buffalo, the Florida State product was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles, where he endured a rocky, injury-plagued three-year tenure. Darby missed 20 of a possible 48 games in Philadelphia with a dislocated ankle, a torn ACL, and a hip flexor. When on the field, he still performed well in 2017 and 2018, earning a Pro Football Focus grade above 70 for each season while amassing a total of four interceptions and 21 passes defended.
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In 2019, however, his play took a drastic dip. That year, Darby allowed a 116.8 passer rating when targeted, giving up 16.4 yards per catch and a 64.2 completion percentage. His PFF grade plummeted to 44.8, and he signed a one-year “prove-it” deal with Washington the following offseason. Darby responded with his best-ever season in 2020. He started 16 games for the first time while allowing a paltry 54.1 completion percentage.
The 5’11, 193-pound Darby is best known for his ability to match and mirror receivers in single coverage. At 27 years old, he’s still in the middle of his prime and should have a few more years of solid play left. The Giants have an obvious hole at their second outside cornerback spot, and Darby is certainly talented enough to fill it. The question becomes whether he’s be a scheme-fit for what defensive coordinator Patrick Graham plans to run in 2021. If Graham intends to use more man-to-man like he did with the Miami Dolphins, Darby would be a logical addition. If New York continues with last season’s zone-heavy approach, Darby’s sub-par ball skills would make him a stay away.
Spotrac has Darby’s market value at $9.2 million annually, which would place him just behind his Washington teammate Kendall Fuller as the 19th-highest paid cornerback in football. The Giants could definitely afford to bring him in. Depending on how cap space they create, they can also afford another mid-level free agent, too.
Should the Giants be Interested?
Yes. Darby’s strong 2020 is a good indicator that his poor 2019 was just a recovery season after tearing his ACL. His ability in man coverage would allow Graham to take a more aggressive defensive approach. New York must address outside cornerback, and Darby represents a great way to do so without breaking the bank.