The team’s top cornerback is expected to be Kendall Fuller, who signed a four-year, $40 million contract this offseason. Fuller played mostly the slot cornerback position with Kansas City, but he has the ability to play on the outside as well. The No. 2 starter alongside Fuller could be decided in a competition between Darby and Fabian Moreau, the promising 25-year-old who replaced Josh Norman in the starting lineup late last season.
For the 5-foot-11, 193-pound Darby, this deal is a chance to prove he can still be the player he once was. The Bills recognized his potential in 2015, when they drafted him in the second round out of Florida State and he became one of the NFL’s best defensive rookies. During training camp in 2017, the Eagles acquired him for wide receiver Jordan Matthews and a third-round draft pick.
The Eagles had lofty expectations for Darby, and when he was on the field, he at times fulfilled them during his three seasons with Philadelphia. He intercepted six passes, defensed 32 and helped hold off the New England Patriots in the Eagles’ victory in Super Bowl LII. But more often, he struggled — such as in Week 1 last season, when Redskins rookie wide receiver Terry McLaurin had five catches for 125 yards and a touchdown while primarily lining up opposite Darby — or battled injuries to his right ankle, right knee and hip. Darby sat out nearly as many games (20) as he played (28) during his time with Philadelphia.
In 2019, he signed a similar one-year contract with the Eagles for $8.5 million. Despite missing five games in the middle of the season with the hip injury, he started 11 games and was serviceable. Darby didn’t find as robust a market this year, perhaps because of a deep draft class of cornerbacks, so for the Redskins he’s a value add who will make slightly more than what Dunbar would have earned this season ($3.5 million).
Behind the trio of Fuller, Moreau and Darby, the Redskins have four young defensive backs hungry for roster spots: Danny Johnson, Greg Stroman, Jimmy Moreland and Jeremy Reaves.
The Darby signing also fuels a curious, if coincidental, trend among the Redskins’ offseason additions at defensive back. Darby is an Oxon Hill, Md., native who played at Potomac High, and he joins safety Sean Davis (Washington, Maret) and Fuller (Baltimore, Good Counsel) as free agents finding their way home to continue their careers.