Lions Linked to Super Bowl Champion CB

Ronald Darby

Getty Bleacher Report's Alex Ballentine argued the Detroit Lions are a potential fit for cornerback Ronald Darby.

Even though the Detroit Lions have never been to the Super Bowl, they have Super Bowl experience on their roster and coaching staff. Adding a little more in free agency, though, wouldn’t hurt. Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine argued that the Lions should consider doing that with free agent cornerback Ronald Darby.

On February 18, Ballentine included Darby on a list of seven potentially overlooked 2024 free agents. Ballentine also named Detroit one of two possible fits for Darby.

“There are some concerns that will likely depress Darby’s market. He’s 30 years old, and he’s had two ACL tears in his career,” Ballentine wrote. “But none of that seemed to hurt him this season.

“The veteran has elite speed and didn’t show signs of slowing down last season. If he stays healthy, he should outperform whatever contract he’s likely to receive based on his age and injury history.”

In nine NFL seasons, Darby has posted 97 pass defenses and 8 interceptions. While playing for the Baltimore Ravens in 2023, he recorded 28 combined tackles, including 1 tackle for loss and 7 pass defenses.

Darby started in seven of the 16 games in which he played. He also started two playoff games, registering 7 combined tackles with 2 pass defenses and a forced fumble.

Darby won the Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2017.

Why Ronald Darby Could Be a Fit for the Lions

Ballentine connected Darby to the Lions because the team will likely be searching for pass defense upgrades this offseason.

Detroit finished the 2023 season ranked 27th in pass defense and 29th in net yards allowed per pass attempt. The Lions also allowed 311.3 passing yards per game and 8.6 yards per pass attempt in the postseason.

The team’s poor pass defense kept Detroit’s first two playoff games close. Then in the NFC championship game, the efficient San Francisco 49ers passing game helped them erase a 17-point halftime lead.

At 30 years old, Darby wouldn’t be a long-term solution for the Lions secondary. But he could be an upgrade for a team in Super Bowl contention next fall.

Darby began his career as a second-round pick for the Buffalo Bills in 2015. After two seasons in Buffalo, the Bills traded him to the Eagles prior to the 2017 season.

Over three years in Philadelphia, Darby dealt with injuries. He ended both the 2018 and 2019 seasons on injured reserve. But he had a career-high 3 interceptions and posted 15 pass defenses including the playoffs to help the Eagles win the Super Bowl in 2017-18.

Since 2020, Darby has played for the Ravens, Washington Football Team and Denver Broncos. In 2022, he suffered a second torn ACL (his first was in 2018).

Darby has appeared in 16 games during a season just twice in his nine-year career. But both of those seasons were in the last four years, including this past season.

Detroit’s Cornerback Depth Heading Into NFL Free Agency

Darby isn’t necessarily the big splash other pundits are projecting the Lions to make in their secondary.

But he’s coming off a strong, healthy 2023 season. Furthermore, cornerbacks Kindle Vildor, Jerry Jacobs and Emmanuel Moseley are expected to become unrestricted free agents in March. So, the Lions probably need to make more than one addition at cornerback.

Signing Darby would continue to allow the Lions flexibility. They could still make a bigger free agent signing in the secondary or draft a cornerback in the first round of the 2024 NFL draft.

Mock draft experts have connected the Lions to cornerback prospects Nate Wiggins, Kool-Aid McKinstry, and Ennis Rakestraw Jr. this offseason.

However, regardless of what other cornerbacks the Lions may target this offseason, Darby would be a quality addition to their defense.

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