By Nick Shook
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Once trades become official Wednesday, Aqib Talib will be off to the West Coast to begin a new chapter in his career with the Los Angeles Rams.
He’ll be joining a secondary that features another newcomer in cornerback Marcus Peters (also acquired via trade) and one of the league’s better safeties in Lamarcus Joyner, who received the franchise tag. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Talib is excited for what’s next.
“What better place to do it than L.A., man,” Talib told NFL Network’s James Palmer on Saturday. “With that market. With (defensive coordinator) Wade Phillips. With a young energetic corner on the other side, man, to bring back that youth to me. A great quarterback and Todd Gurley, it’s just a great situation in my opinion.”
A great situation, no doubt. Talib joins a team that ranked in the top half against the pass and owned the league’s best scoring offense (29.9 points per game). A productive offense always makes a defender’s life a little easier, but what’s really enticing for the veteran is playing opposite Peters, a young, hungry, up-and-coming corner with an outspoken mean streak similar to Talib’s.
“I’m not trying to make him better,” Talib said of Peters. “He had eight interceptions — he’s already cold. I’m just going to just be me. … He was one of the first guys to Facetime me. So he already a friend of mine. I already talked to him.
“It’s going to be good, man. It’s going to be good. I can’t wait to get in the same locker room with him.”
That locker room is led by a young coach in Sean McVay, with young stars in Jared Goff and Todd Gurley. The Rams were upstart in 2017; they won’t be a surprise in 2018, especially after the flurry of recent moves made by general manager Les Snead. Those expectations are going to require some veteran leadership provided by a player with experience. Talib fits the bill.
He gained that experience during his three-season run in New England and four-year stint in Denver, where he was one-fourth of the No Fly Zone. His departure has cut that group down from four to two — leaving just Chris Harris and Darian Stewart — and officially spelling the end of an era.
“It’s in the books now, man,” Talib said of the No Fly Zone defense. “It’s definitely in the books. … We’ll definitely go down in the books as one of the best secondaries in history.”
That secondary was part of a suffocating defense that won Denver a Super Bowl. Perhaps Talib can be a senior member of another memorable defense. He already has a familiar face (Phillips) calling the shots.