Talib traded to Rams as Broncos prepare to bid for Cousins

The Denver Broncos are parting ways with a key fixture of their defense, sending five-time Pro Bowl cornerback Aqib Talib to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick. Talib turned 32 in February, and the Broncos are rebuilding following a disastrous 5-11 season, making Talib’s cap space more valuable to them than his potential contributions on the field.

Denver’s roster has many problems that need addressing, the most pressing of which is at quarterback. The Broncos are expected to make a serious push for Kirk Cousins once the free agency period begins, and in order to do that while still maintaining cap room to fill other holes in the roster, they need to get rid of veterans like Talib on relatively pricey contracts. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Talib told Denver he would only accept a trade to either the Rams or the New England Patriots because he wanted to play under Wade Phillips or Bill Belichick.

Talib’s statistical performance took a bit of a dip in 2017, but he was still a very effective cornerback for the Broncos, returning one interception 103 yards for a touchdown - his sixth pick-six in four years with Denver. He played a major role with five tackles in the Broncos’ victory at Super Bowl 50, and he has remained relatively healthy despite his age, only missing six regular-season games during his time in Denver (with two of those absences due to suspension).

Talib is owed $11 million in 2018 and $8 million in 2019, making him a bargain for the Rams, who were paying Trumaine Johnson more than $16 million under a franchise tag last year. Los Angeles also traded for Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters, and the combined salaries of Talib and Peters will still be well below what Los Angeles paid Johnson in 2017. The Rams already had one of the better defenses in the NFL, and now they will have an even stronger secondary to try and improve on last season’s playoff appearance.