ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Aqib Talib is reuniting with Wade Phillips in Los Angeles after the Denver Broncos agreed to trade the star cornerback to the Rams, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press.
The Rams will send Denver a mid-round pick, believed to be a fifth-rounder, in next month’s draft for the perennial Pro Bowl cornerback, said the person, who spoke off the record because the trade isn’t official until the start of the new league year Wednesday.
“Man, I’m so excited,” Talib told The Associated Press from Dallas on Thursday night. “I can’t wait to play for Coach Sean McVay, go back with working with Wade, and playing with my young man, Marcus Peters. He’s going to bring that young energy back to me.
“I’m super excited to play with those guys. Aaron Donald is a good friend of mine, too, so I get to go from playing behind Von Miller to playing behind Aaron Donald. That’s not too shabby. I got another MVP in front of me.”
The NFL Network first reported the agreement. The Broncos had been in talks with the Patriots, 49ers and Rams about Talib, who signed a six-year, $57 million deal in Denver in 2014, part of a defensive makeover that carried the team to the Super Bowl title two years ago.
In Los Angeles, Talib will reunite with Phillips, who was his defensive coordinator in Denver until last year, and will play alongside a fellow star defensive back in Peters, whom the Rams are acquiring from Kansas City .
Talib had an eventful four seasons in Denver, both on and off the field. He missed the Broncos’ visit with former President Barack Obama to celebrate their Super Bowl 50 triumph after accidentally shooting himself in the leg during a night of partying only to come back to have an All-Pro season in 2016. He was suspended for one game for fighting Michael Crabtree last season.
None of that is why the Broncos are moving on from Talib.
They needed to clear both salary cap space and room for rising cornerback Bradley Roby, who’s getting a big pay raise from about $1 million in 2017 to $8.526 million this year in the final season of his rookie contract.
On Thursday, the Broncos also picked up cornerback Chris Harris Jr.’s $1 million option, guaranteeing his 2018 salary of about $7.5 million. He’ll cost them $10.26 million against the cap in 2018.
By trading Talib, who’s due $11 million this season and $8 million next year, the Broncos will have about $35 million in salary cap space to pursue free agents, including quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Talib said Donald was the first Ram to reach out to him after word of the deal got out Thursday night. They share an agent in Todd France.
Talib said he’ll miss playing with Harris, his college teammate at Kansas, and the rest of the Broncos, however.
“It’s a business, man, so them guys understand,” Talib said. “Chris hit me up. We’re all talented corners and they couldn’t pay all of us. They got that quarterback situation they’ve got to fix.”
Talib’s departure further breaks up the “No Fly Zone” secondary that saw its first departure last fall when the Broncos cut safety T.J. Ward so they could play second-year safety Justin Simmons more.
Talib, who was one of the Broncos’ defensive captains last season, called his stay in Denver special.
“I’m going to miss it. It’s a one-of-a-kind group in that locker room,” Talib said. “Von’s going to be out here in Dallas this weekend for the grand opening of my workout facility. So, I’ll get to hang out with him again. But I’m definitely going to miss it. A lot of good memories in that locker room.”
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