Thirteen days after being placed on the Injured Reserve list, Aqib Talib is no longer a Los Angeles Ram. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the former Broncos cornerback has been traded to the Miami Dolphins alongside a 5th-round pick, with an undisclosed future draft selection going to LA in return.
Talib was a star acquisition in free agency back in 2018 but has suffered many injury setbacks during his tenure as a Ram. In order to free up cap space for a long-term Jalen Ramsey extension, Los Angeles had to sacrifice a piece of its expensive defensive unit, and Talib was the obvious answer.
The 33-year-old veteran has made only 15 tackles in 2019 and has been sidelined since the Week 5 loss to the Seahawks. He and Marcus Peters had an especially tough expectation-filled period with the Rams, taking center stage in a defensive unit that struggled against deep threats. This move targets a “revolution” of some sort in this particular field.
The deal now leaves the Rams with Ramsey and Nickel Robey-Coleman starting at cornerback, a substantial difference from the Peters-Talib tandem that started the season. The Rams are 15th in allowed yards through the air thus far, and getting rid of struggling corners like Peters and Talib in favour of one of the best at the position in the league in Ramsey, and signing him to a long-term deal, resembles a impressive defensive improvement for the Rams even beyond the 2019 campaign.
If the front seven sustains its success that’s led to 12 sacks in the team’s last three games, it would only be a matter of time before the unit to becomes consistent on the defensive side of the ball. The Rams have had a thoroughly solid under-the-radar defense, allowing an average of 21.8 points a game, ranking them 15th among NFL defenses, 10 of which allow less than 20 points a game.
On the other hand, the return for Miami also has the potential to look like a steal should Talib return to his performance from the good ol’ Denver days. The Dolphins now have 11 picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, and will likely remain with at least 10 after the pick going to the Rams becomes clear. Apart from the five spots in the first two rounds of the draft, they’ll now choose three times in the fifth round as things stand now.
There are a ton of needs and holes in this Miami roster but a healthy Talib next year could help solve one of them. The Jets trading Leonard Williams to the Giants bears resemblance of some sort – the former first-rounder has had four unproductive years in green and white, and the Giants are pretty much gambling on him as of now to unlock his potential.
Whether the Dolphins get the first or the second overall pick, they’re likely to address the quarterback position with that selection, given that Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor doesn’t go top 10 and the Dolphins get him with what was formerly a Pittsburgh first-round pick, or choose to pass on him altogether.
If they elect to choose a QB at first/second, Josh Rosen’s days in Miami Gardens are numbered so another high draft pick could become their possession. Rosen has two and a half years remaining on his rookie contract so the return from a QB-desperate team could be more than satisfying.
The Rams have made many trades aiming at establishing them as Super Bowl contenders in the past two seasons and, yet, this one in among those that appear to potentially show the biggest of dividends. The whole process that swapped Peters and Talib for Ramsey and guaranteed his future services is among the best pieces of business the Les Snead-led front office has made since the start of their dynamic rebuild.
The Dolphins, meanwhile, are running the same road as wanna-be phenomenon Cleveland Browns, maintaining even more early-round picks than the Browns in 2018. Just like Cleveland, they’ll face numerous challenges, with the seats of HC Bruce Arians and GM Chris Grier heating as the next calendar year progresses.