Aqib Talib

Aqib Talib On Blocking Trade To 49ers

In March, Broncos GM John Elway reached agreement on a deal to send Aqib Talib to the 49ers for a fourth-round pick in the 2019 draft. Or, so he thought. Talib blocked the deal, forcing Elway to instead send the cornerback to the Rams for a 2018 fifth-round choice. In an interview with Andy Benoit of SI.com, Talib said the notion of going to San Francisco was a non-starter for him. 

I told [Elway], ‘I ain’t even gonna take no physical in San Fran, so there won’t be no trade,’” Talib said.

Ultimately, Talib was willing to play for only three teams – the Rams, Patriots, and Cowboys. The veteran cited familiarity – both on-and off-the-field – as the reason for his three-team list.

I’m going on year 11, man. I’m not trying to go learn a whole new system. I wanted to go somewhere I’d be comfortable.” Talib said. “I’m comfortable if I can live at my house in Dallas and go just around the corner to work. I cut my bills in half. Or if I can go play in a defensive scheme that I’ve played in before. So I told him Dallas, New England or L.A.

Ultimately, Talib got his way as he reunited with Wade Phillips in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the Rams assumed his contract, which calls for $11MM in 2018 and $8MM in 2019. Talib reportedly would have also been okay with an outright release, but he has no complaints after landing with one of his preferred teams – a Rams club that has gone to great lengths to improve its defense.

In addition to Talib, the Rams have also added defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters. On the other side of the Ball, the Rams brought in Brandin Cooks to offset the loss of Sammy Watkins.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams HC Sean McVay Discusses Offseason, Cooks, Talib

The Rams are going to have plenty of pressure on them heading into next season. Following a 2017 campaign that saw them win 11 games and earn their first playoff appearance in more than a decade, the franchise loaded up this offseason.

While the team let go of players like Sammy Watkins, Trumaine JohnsonAlec Ogletree and Robert Quinn, they seemingly found upgrades in Brandin Cooks, Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, and Ndamukong Suh . Clearly, there will be a lot of pressure on this talented squad, but it sounds like Sean McVay is ready for the challenge.

The Rams head coach recently sat down with Myles Simmons of TheRams.com to discuss his offseason additions and the team’s expectations in 2018. The whole interview is worth checking out, but we’ve compiled some of the notable soundbites below:

How OTAs have been going, especially when it comes to adding new players into the system:

“I think it’s been really good. There’s been a lot of good competition, guys getting familiar with our systems, continuing to learn each other — how to compete but be smart doing it. And I think we’re just starting to see guys just continue to make improvements one day at a time. Our coaches are doing a great job. So want to wrap up OTAs the right way next week.”

On the acquistion of wideout Brandin Cooks, and how his addition will help quarterback Jared Goff:

“Yeah, I think with Brandin, and then being able to play alongside such a great receiving corps that we have in place, he’s been a nice addition. Feel really good watching the way he’s been able to implement himself into our offense by the way he’s learned, how conscientious he is in meetings. And he’s a guy — if you just look at, really, his career — he is a really fast player, but he can do everything. He plays big for a smaller-stature guy. But he’s strong. He can win short, he can win intermediate, he can go down the field. So I think you’re really not limited in any way that you can utilize him. And there’s a reason why he’s had over 1,000 yards and [at least] seven touchdowns each of the last three years. And he’s a special player for sure.”

On the addition of cornerback Aqib Talib, and how his veteran presence will help the defense:

“Well I think like anybody else, he’s had a lot of success in this league. But I think he leads by being able to connect with the players, and then going out and doing things the right way with the way he practices, the way he is in meetings. I’ve been extremely impressed watching him from afar. I was with him in Tampa his rookie year, and now just getting a chance to reconnect with him — smart player, cerebral. Seen a lot of different things, understands concepts. And then he’s also got the athleticism to match up with it. And he’s very comfortable having played in this system with coach Phillips in Denver. So, it’s been a seamless transition for him so far. And we feel really good about having Aqib with us.”

On how much Talib’s relationship with defensive coordinator Wade Phillips influenced the acquisition:

“Oh, it’s huge. I think that’s one of the things you feel so good about, is that a lot of the players that we’ve acquired from outside the organization have been people that have worked with some members of our coaching staff. And Wade in particular with the knowledge and experience that he has, he’s got a great feel for personnel around this league. And having worked with some great players, you hear guys want to come play for him because of the way he works with those guys, the way he puts them in position to have success. And Aqib is very similar. And, like I said, extremely pleased that we got him and it’s a real credit to Les and his staff for getting that trade done.”

On first-year quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor:

“Yeah I think when you look at Zac, great college quarterback, had some success playing professionally, Big 12 Player of the Year. He’s got a great even-keel demeanor and disposition. He’s been a coordinator, when he called plays for the Dolphins. He was at the University of Cincinnati. But I think he’s just got such a great perspective and a really good way about relating to the players, communicating in a clear, open, and honest fashion. And that demeanor, that disposition — especially dealing with the quarterback position — I think is perfect. Extremely detail-oriented. Been really pleased with what he’s done. And he’s another guy, having had him in place, getting to work with our receivers last year, and now watching the way he’s interacting with Jared, with Sean, and with Brandon — it’s been a really seamless transition. And he’s done a really good job so far.”

On avoiding a “boom-or-bust” mentality:

“I think the NFL is so competitive — don’t really look at it like that. Look at it as, we feel confident with the players that we have, with our coaches. And we’re focused on getting better every single day. And I think in the short amount of time that I’ve been fortunate to work in this league, you realize how competitive all 32 teams are — the other 31 teams other than us. And [they’ve got] great coaches, great players. And you can’t afford to kind of get complacent. You’ve got to always focus on getting better one day at a time, establishing a standard of performance and how our process guides our everyday approach — and that’s the one day at a time. And you can’t really get caught up in things that we can’t control. We kind of just want to be just want to be where our feet our planted, and that’s being present in the day and controlling what we can control.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Smith, Manziel, Rams

Some assorted notes from around the NFL…

  • Former Raiders and 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith is “being transferred to an inpatient substance abuse treatment center as he awaits his next court date” (via ESPN.com). Smith was arrested last week after violating the conditions of his monitoring. The “order for Smith to remain in custody in rehab” is indefinite, according to a spokesman for the San Francisco district attorney’s office. Last month, Smith pleaded not guilty to domestic violence charges following a March incident. The Raiders still released the trouble defender soon after the initial arrest.
  • The CFL could provide quarterback Johnny Manziel with a path back to the NFL, but Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com writes that the transition wouldn’t be immediate. A source told the reporter that the CFL won’t “soften” the rule that requires a two-year commitment from their players, meaning if Manziel joined the league, he wouldn’t be able to sign with an NFL team until at least 2020. Florio writes that the quarterback could shift his focus to the Alliance of American Football, a spring league that is set to launch in 2019.
  • In an interview with TheRams.com, recently-acquired cornerback Aqib Talib explained why he wanted to be traded to the Rams. “Well, I’m in the later half of my career and I just wanted to be comfortable,” Talib said. “Wherever I went, I wanted to be comfortable and there was no time in the NFL where I was more comfortable playing football than with Wade Phillips. He’€™s like a guru at putting guys in position to succeed. So if I was going to go somewhere I wanted to be comfortable and I’€™m definitely comfortable here in L.A.”
  • The Rams are already working on a new deal with Aaron Donald, and general manager Les Snead acknowledged that the defensive tackle will ultimately make more than new teammate Ndamukong Suh. “The nice thing about Ndamukong,” Snead said during an appearance on The MMQB Podcast with Peter King (via Chris Wesseling of NFL.com), “at age 31 and somebody who’s been the highest-paid defensive player in football, winning was very important in this phase of his career…He’s well aware that when you can partner, be beside someone who is on the verge of being the highest-paid defensive player in football, then that’s a really good thing. I guess you’d say two is better than one.”

Extra Points: Butler, Shead, Rams, Chiefs

It’s been a wild ride for the Seahawks defense the past week. After the team traded Michael Bennett to the Eagles and released Richard Sherman, it also decided to release cornerback DeShawn Shead.

This was noteworthy because the Seahawks told the player it would release him to allow him to become an unrestricted free agent despite the NFL saying his contract should toll for 2018.

Earlier today, Shead signed with the Lions but reportedly wanted a return to the Seahawks, the Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta tweets. After Seattle honored its statement to make the cornerback a free agent, Shead wanted to give Seattle every chance to keep him, but the organization ultimately wouldn’t match the offer he received from the Lions.

Seattle now enters free agency without three of its top veterans and could be seeing the end of the Earl Thomas era, who has threatened to hold out if he doesn’t receive a new deal. The Seahawks could deal him this offseason and are reportedly looking for a first-round pick in return.

Needless to say, the Seahawks once-stingy defensive unit will look plenty different in 2018.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Rams general manager Les Snead said on Wednesday the team traded linebacker Alec Ogletree to accommodate the ensuing move for cornerback Aqib Talib, Alden Gonzalez tweets. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips prefers cornerbacks to linebackers in his scheme, and a big move had to be made to bring in the former Broncos corner, who will count $11 MM toward the cap.
  • Snead also said he sees ways the Rams can address run defense and the pass rush in free agency, Gonzalez tweets. Though he is weighing what will be available to fill those holes with rookies, he doesn’t want to just wait until the draft to fill obvious needs. The team received some insurance for its pass rush on Wednesday when it re-signed veteran linebacker Connor Barwin.
  • New Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler said he was worried his Super Bowl benching would hurt his value on the open market, USA Today’s Lindsay Jones tweets. Butler notoriously didn’t see the field against the Eagles in February when the Patriots allowed Nick Foles to shred their secondary. The 2015 Pro Bowl selection reached a deal with the Titans on Wednesday worth up to $61 MM over five years, with $30 MM of that being guaranteed.
  • Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said cornerback Marcus Peters‘ trade to the Rams had nothing to do with national anthem protests, Pro Football Talk passes along“This was a football decision. … This wasn’t just one game, wasn’t a month, this was three years of body of work, and we look for consistency. We felt that this was in the best interest of the team,” Veach said. 
  • Veach also touched on the Chiefs move for Sammy Watkins, saying the team pounced on the receiver in the first minute of free agency, the NFL Network’s James Palmer tweets. Veach said that if Watkins received a call before theirs, the other team would’ve had to call in 30 seconds before they did. The team was motivated to move on Watkins to add him to Tyreek Hill, giving strong-armed quarterback Patrick Mahomes a pair of dynamic, stretch-the-field receivers.

Extra Points: Sherman, 49ers, Talib, 49ers, Bucs, Greco

Richard Sherman has taken some flack for his one-year deal with the 49ers, but he has no regrets about acting as his own agent.

I don’t think any agent in the business could have done a better job of negotiating this contract,” Sherman told Peter King of The MMQB. “As long as I’m content with what I’m making, nothing else matters to me. Once I make a Pro Bowl, $8MM the next year is guaranteed for me. It gives me the ability to control my destiny. The 49ers have skin in the game. I have skin in the game. In my former contract, no matter what I did this year, nothing would be guaranteed to me next year. I couldn’t feel secure in my contract. Now, if I play the way I know I’m capable of playing, I know I’m going to get paid.”

Sherman’s deal is a three-year, $39MM pact, but a deeper look shows that the real base value is just $21.15MM with another $18MM coming in the form of bonuses. In order to earn the full $39MM, Sherman must play in every regular season game, be on the field for 90% of snaps, and earn Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors in each season. In other words, it’s unlikely that Sherman will actually see the full value of the deal. Still, Sherman is content with how things played out and intimated that he wanted the opportunity to face his old team twice per year.

  • Mike Klis of 9News in Denver (on Twitter) had more on the 49ers’ proposed trade for cornerback Aqib Talib from the Broncos, which Talib rejected. The 49ers were going to send a fourth-round pick in the 2019 draft in exchange for the services of the five-time Pro Bowler. In the end, the Broncos traded Talib to the Rams for a fifth-round pick in the 2018 draft.
  • The Buccanneers looked to shore up their kicking woes of late by attempting to land former Florida State kicker Dustin Hopkins before he re-signed with the Redskins, according to ESPN’s Jenna Laine. The Bucs cut former second-round pick Roberto Aguayo prior to last season and Nick Folk was cut last month after missing a majority of last season on injured reserve with a minor-injury designation. Free-agent addition Patrick Murray hit 82.6% of his kicks with Tampa Bay last year in 23 attempts, with a long of 50 yards.
  • The Giants and offensive lineman John Greco agreed to a one-year deal last month and Ralph Vacchiano of SNY (on Twitter) that his salary for 2018 will be $1.02MM. Greco appeared in six games for the Giants last season after spending the previous six seasons as a mainstay within the interior of the Browns’ offensive line.

Aqib Talib Discusses Trade To Rams

Before the Broncos agreed to trade Aqib Talib to the Rams, they had a deal in place that would have sent him to the 49ers. However, Talib rejected that trade, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter), and he ended up with Los Angeles (San Francisco, of course, found a pretty nice consolation prize in Richard Sherman). 

Talib recently spoke with James Palmer of the NFL Network (video link), which marked the first time he publicly commented on the trade. In the interview, Talib said he wanted to remain in Denver but is excited about the “fourth quarter” of his playing career and about the opportunity to reunite with defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.

Given the amount of money that Denver had tied up at the cornerback position, Talib saw the writing on the wall and realized that his time as a Bronco was probably coming to an end, though he still hoped to stay with the club. He said, “I had established real friendships [in Denver]. Robe (Bradley Roby), Chris [Harris] — they’re my guys. Von [Miller], Stew (Darian Stewart). I established real friends there…It wasn’t an issue where I wanted to get out of there. There’s no reason to want to get out of there. That’s a great organization. But it’s a business. We had too much talent on the backend [of the defense].” 

He did indicate that, if he had to be traded, he was happy to be traded to the Rams (previous reports indicated that if Denver wanted to move on from him, he would prefer to be released so he could become a free agent, and in that scenario, he would have been interested in rejoining the Patriots). He did not comment on his decision to nix the Broncos-49ers trade, though he did say that there was never any issue between him and embattled Broncos head coach Vance Joseph.

Talib will fly to Los Angeles tonight and take a physical tomorrow morning. If all goes well, the trade will be made official on Wednesday.

Credit to Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post for her recap of the Talib-Palmer interview.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos, Rams Agree On Aqib Talib Trade

The Rams will reunite Aqib Talib and Wade Phillips, and the Broncos will receive compensation for a cornerback they’ve been trying to unload.

Los Angeles agreed to acquire Talib from Denver on Thursday, James Palmer and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com report (on Twitter). This continues a busy offseason for the Rams, who will now have two of the best corners to come through the AFC West this decade on their team.

Talib will net the Broncos a fifth-round pick, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).

The 32-year-old cornerback has two years remaining on the six-year Broncos-constructed contract and will count $12MM toward the Rams’ cap this season. This trade won’t involve any adjustment to Talib’s contract, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports (via Twitter).

Schefter reports (on Twitter) Talib wanted to again play for Phillips or Bill Belichick, and this helped dictate the trade terms. The 49ers and Patriots had surfaced as suitors who discussed the 11th-year cornerback with the Broncos, but Denver dealt with the Rams and pair Talib and Marcus Peters.

While the Rams are gambling on a tandem featuring two polarizing corners, they now have two of the three corners from the 2016 All-Pro first team. The Broncos previously enjoyed that setup, with Talib and fellow ’16 All-Pro Chris Harris being a four-season tandem for a dominant defense, but Talib’s age and salary did not line up for a team that is pursuing the most expensive free agent in NFL history in Kirk Cousins.

In Peters and Talib, the Rams will have two of the NFL’s best defensive playmakers. Peters is on a record takeaway pace for a cornerback, and Talib sits fourth in NFL history with 10 interceptions returned for touchdowns. That figure leads all active players by three.

While known plenty for his on- and off-field antics that caused headaches and suspensions, Talib has been one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks for many years. He stabilized his career in Denver and was a four-time Pro Bowler since signing with the Broncos in 2014. The former Patriot was a key component of a 2015 Broncos defense that became an all-time great unit, helping Denver to a third Super Bowl title. And Talib thrived under Phillips a year later as well en route to his first All-Pro honor.

Talib will reunite with Kayvon Webster, who may be the only notable corner to see time for both the 2017 and ’18 Rams. The Rams have now agreed to trade for Peters and Talib and also took a flier on former Packers top corner Sam Shields. Trumaine Johnson is expected to depart, and Nickell Robey-Coleman may follow him out of L.A.

The Rams continue to vacillate between shedding salary and taking on money in blockbuster trades. They’ve also created significant cap space over the past week by trading Robert Quinn and Alec Ogletree away, with Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link) categorizing the departing players as poor fits for Phillips’ scheme.

The Broncos now have 11 picks in the coming draft and have created $11MM in cap space, pushing their total north of $35MM. While that’s still less than the Vikings or Jets — the other primary Cousins suitors — have, it puts the franchise in better position to make a competitive offer.

[RELATED: Rams Depth Chart]

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers, Broncos Discuss Aqib Talib Trade

The Broncos and 49ers have discussed a trade that would have sent cornerback Aqib Talib to San Francisco, according to Dianna Marie Russini of ESPN.com (on Twitter). However, that doesn’t look likely to go down at this time. Meanwhile, Talib’s preference is to be released so that he can sign with a team of his choosing and his top choice is the Patriots, Russini hears. 

Talib has been identified as a trade/release candidate for the Broncos due to his $11MM cap number in 2018. The veteran does not have a no trade clause, but any team acquiring him would want to know that he on board with joining them, so he effectively has the ability to scuttle a deal. That may be the case with the 49ers, who may also want Talib to adjust his contract.

Talib has two years remaining on the six-year, $57MM pact he signed with Denver in 2014. With Chris Harris Jr. and Bradley Roby already in-house, the Broncos can afford to move on from him. What they really can’t afford to do, however, is keep hm at his current rate. The Broncos have several needs to address this offseason, chiefly at the quarterback position.

Signing with the Patriots would represent something of a homecoming for Talib, who spent parts of two seasons with New England earlier this decade. The Patriots already have one high-priced cornerback in Stephon Gilmore, but they’re expected to lose Malcolm Butler to free agency. If Talib is willing to accept less than the $11MM base salary he’s scheduled to collect, New England would seem like an ideal destination.

The 49ers, meanwhile, also make sense as a landing spot for Talib given the state of their secondary and their ample amount of cap space. San Francisco could certainly take on Talib at his current salary, but it’s possible the club has asked Talib to accept a pay reduction under the terms of a trade. After ranking 28th in pass defensive DVOA a season ago, the 49ers can use all the help they can get in their defensive backfield.

Talib, 32, appeared in 15 games with the Broncos in 2017, a campaign which marked his fourth in Denver. Despite his advanced age, Talib is still playing like one of the NFL’s premier cornerbacks. Pro Football Focus graded him as the 15th-best CB in the league, while Talib finished third in Football Outsiders’ success rate.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Patriots, Sherman, Talib

Cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Aqib Talib would be receptive to the idea of joining the Patriots, a source tells Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald. Both players are under contract, but it’s possible that the Seahawks could trade Sherman and Talib is a trade/release candidate for the Broncos due to his $11MM cap number in 2018.

Given that Sherman and Talib are both after a second Super Bowl ring, it’s no surprise to hear that they would both be intrigued by the possibility of joining up with the Pats. Both players are under contract, but it’s a situation to watch, particularly since Seattle is in the bottom third of the league in cap space.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • The Jets have yet to approach cornerback Buster Skrine about taking a pay cut for the 2018 season, Darryl Slater of NJ.com hears. Skrine is slated to carry an $8.5MM cap figure with a $6MM salary. When asked about the possibility in December, Skrine seemed to ball at the idea of taking a trim. “What’s my cap, 8.5 next year?” said Skrine, who turns 29 in April. “So I’m expecting 8.5. I don’t think any player goes into thinking if they’re taking a pay cut. I feel like I’ve been doing well and playing at a high level for what they ask me to do. I’ve just got to continue to play the way I’m playing.” Last year, Skrine ranked as Pro Football Focus’ No. 85 ranked corner. For what it’s worth, PFF’s metrics have never been high on him and his 65.7 overall score from ’17 was actually a career best.
  • Free agent center Travis Swanson has generated the most interest from the Jets and Dolphins, a source tells Howe (Twitter link). Swanson is eligible for free agency for the first time in his career after spending the last four seasons with the Lions. The 2014 third-round pick has 53 appearances with 42 starts to his credit. Jets starting center Wesley Johnson and reserve Jonotthan Harrison are both headed towards free agency in March. The Dolphins have Mike Pouncey as their starter, but they could be looking as Swanson as a reserve option.
  • Patriots free agent tackle Nate Solder wants to continue playing, despite some recent hardship in his family.
  • The Bills are not giving up on the idea of re-signing cornerback E.J. Gaines, even after signing Vontae Davis.

Broncos Rumors: Thomas, Sanders, Wolfe

Here’s a quick look at the latest out of Denver:

  • As had been previously reported, the Broncos plan to retain wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, general manager John Elway told reporters, including Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post (Twitter link). Specifically, Denver will exercise its $4MM option on Thomas, which will lock the 30-year-old pass-catcher into a $8.5MM base salary for the 2018 season. Sanders, meanwhile, is due an $8.15MM base salary next year. While neither receiver performed up to expectations in 2017, the Broncos likely want to keep both veterans around as they search for a new quarterback.
  • Similarly, the Broncos will bring back defensive end Derek Wolfe, who’d been mentioned as a possible cap casualty, tweets Jhabvala. Wolf, 28, signed a four-year, $36.7MM extension prior to the 2016 campaign, forgoing free agency in order to re-sign with Denver. Since that time, Wolfe has been limited by minor injuries, and played on fewer than half of the Broncos’ defensive snaps a season ago. Pro Football Focus ranked Wolfe — who managed two sacks in 2017 — as the No. 58 interior defender among 122 qualifiers. He’ll collect a base salary of $8MM and count for ~$10.769MM on Denver’s cap in 2018.
  • While Thomas, Sanders, and Wolfe appear safe, Elway refused to give the same declaration on cornerback Aqib Talib or running back C.J. Anderson, per Jhabvala (Twitter link). Denver is reportedly attempting to trade Talib (and his $11MM salary), but the club could release the veteran defensive back if no interest is found. Anderson, meanwhile, may also be cut, and the Dolphins — who signed Anderson to a restricted free agent offer sheet in 2016 — are expected to pursue him.