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Washington Post / News - Politics

Trade-happy Rams acquire cornerback Aqib Talib from Broncos

Los Angeles had previously traded for all-pro cornerback Marcus Peters as part of a flurry of deals in which the team has reshaped its defense ahead of free agency and the draft.

Aqib Talib will be on his fourth NFL team, following stints with the Buccaneers, Patriots and Broncos. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Another day, another trade for the Rams. Also, another highly regarded cornerback, as Los Angeles continues to reshape its defense ahead of free agency and the draft.

The Rams acquired Pro Bowler Aqib Thursday from the Broncos after trading for all-pro cornerback Marcus Peters earlier in the offseason. The deal with Denver comes one day after Los Angeles traded linebacker Alec Ogeltree to the Giants, which occurred a few days after the Rams dealt pass-rusher Robert Quinn to the Dolphins.

According to NFL Network, the Rams are sending the Broncos a fifth-round pick in exchange for Talib, and Pro Football Talk reported that Los Angeles will take on the entirety of the two years left on the cornerback’s contract, set to pay him $11 million this year and $8 million in 2019. All announced NFL trades will become official when the new league year begins on Wednesday.

By pairing the 32-year-old Talib, whose 34 interceptions are the most in the NFL since he was drafted in 2008, with the 25-year-old Peters, whose 19 interceptions over the past three years are the most in the NFL over that span, the Rams should prove a difficult challenge for opposing outside receivers. In addition, the team signed former Packers cornerback Sam Shields Thursday and, earlier this week, they locked up safety Lamarcus Joyner for a year with the franchise tag.

First @marcuspeters. Now @AqibTalib21.
Another Pro Bowl CB is heading to the @RamsNFL.

Watch Talib's 2017 highlights! pic.twitter.com/vDmmfT6vPF

— NFL (@NFL) March 9, 2018

35 defensive backs had a PFF grade of 85+ last year. The Rams now have 4 of them in Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, Lamarcus Joyner and John Johnson. Once free agency begins and the trades are official, they'll be the only team with 4.

— Nathan Jahnke (@PFF_NateJahnke) March 9, 2018

👀 I love it !! Them boys gonna be a problem over there !! Sean Mcvay you creating What you said you would do !! Respect ✊🏾

A post shared by Desean Jackson (@0ne0fone) on Mar 8, 2018 at 6:31pm PST

In the previous two seasons, the Rams had placed the franchise tag on cornerback Trumaine Johnson, and he is now expected to sign elsewhere as a free agent. Los Angeles could benefit from that scenario, as well, if it can receive a third-round compensatory pick following Johnson’s expected departure.

According to multiple reports, Talib had let the Broncos know that he only wanted to be traded to the Patriots, where he played one and a half seasons, or the Rams, whose defensive coordinator, Wade Phillips, won a Super Bowl when he worked with Talib in Denver. With their options limited, the Broncos preferred to get something for the five-time Pro Bowler rather than releasing him outright.

By ridding themselves of Talib’s contract, the Broncos get some extra salary-cap space as they gear up to bid for the services of free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins, who is expected to command a record-breaking deal on the open market. The team can also give more playing time to cornerback Bradley Roby, while solidifying three-time Pro Bowler Chris Harris as its top player at the position.

Gonna miss my Dawg @aqibtalib21 Brother on and off the field I know he gone Ball with the Rams .

A post shared by Chris Harris Jr (@chrisharrisjr) on Mar 8, 2018 at 6:22pm PST

No lie ima miss my brother @AqibTalib21 learn so much. Fam forever!!!!!! Learn a lot from you big bro excited for you

— Cj Anderson (@cjandersonb22) March 9, 2018

As some observers pointed out Thursday, the Rams’ moves to create a top-notch secondary have come as the NFC West rival Seahawks appear on the way toward ending the “Legion of Boom” era, with cornerback Richard Sherman widely reported to be on the move. Others took the opportunity to note that, although Talib is now out of his division, Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree still needs to be concerned about hanging on to his chain — his squad is set to play the Rams this coming season.

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