Cornerback Ronald Darby came to Washington in 2020 on a one-year deal with a chance to rejuvenate his career. The opportunity afforded him the potential to play well and set himself up for a solid contract when he hit the open market again.
Darby did just that, playing above expectations and becoming an important part of the defense. Now an unrestricted free agent, he could be a somewhat attractive option for teams searching for a piece to add to their secondary. Yet Darby, an Oxon Hill, Md. native, doesn't want to go anywhere.
“I hope and pray I end up back home," Darby said on 106.7 The Fan's Grant and Danny. "You know, I’m a hometown guy.”
A major reason Darby would like to remain in Washington stems from the coaching staff. Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio were who helped convince the cornerback to join the team in 2020, and having now worked with the two of them for a season he's become a big fan of their coaching styles and personalities.
That coupled with Washington being a young team on the rise has Darby wanting to finish what the group started this past campaign.
“I love playing for Ron. He a straight-on coach, he ain’t going to beat around the bush, he ain’t going to tell you what you want to here. He and Jack Del Rio, great D coordinator.”
“There’s a lot of positivity, and there’s a lot of hungry guys," Darby said. "So I would love to be back in Washington.”
Darby was a pleasant surprise for the Washington Football Team in 2020. Coming in, the expectation was that he could compete to see some time on the field and provide the cornerback position with depth. He quickly became much more than that, starting all 16 games and appearing on almost every down.
The turnaround after some not-so-great years in Philadelphia is something Darby attributes to finally being fully healthy. After dealing with nagging injuries, this past year was the first time in a while he felt truly complete as a player.
“I felt comfortable," Darby said. "I felt real comfortable.”
It also didn't hurt that an impressive pass rush led to quicker releases from quarterbacks and easier opportunities for Darby to stick with receivers and make plays.
“This team is going to get better over time. The players we got, the upfront we got. They made it real easy on me, that upfront [is] crazy," Darby said. "Probably one of the best upfronts in the league, hands down.”
There was a stretch of his career that presented numerous challenges for Darby. Injuries and doubters created a stressful environment. In Washington, however, he found himself with a new chance that allowed him to play freely and at the level he knew he was capable of.
Now, the goal is to build off that and reach a new level. He wants that to happen while he's wearing burgundy and gold.