Aqib Talib has officially joined the Denver Broncos.
The former Patriots cornerback signed his new six-year contract — worth $57 million, with $26 million guaranteed — on Wednesday.
“Thanks for the opportunity to be here, opportunity to play for a great organization,” Talib said at an introductory news conference in Denver. “I’m just excited, man. Looking forward to the opportunity.”
Talib joins a reworked Broncos secondary that parted ways with longtime stalwart Champ Bailey this offseason and added safety T.J. Ward. The Broncos also added pass rusher DeMarcus Ware on Wednesday, a day after he was cut by the Cowboys.
“We know how much we hated playing against him, so we’re thrilled he’s come to the Denver Broncos,” said Broncos president John Elway. “He’s a tremendous player, tough, great cover guy. He’s going to really add to our secondary.”
Talib is the second prominent free agent to flee the Patriots for the Broncos in as many seasons. Wide receiver Wes Welker joined Denver last year after failing to agree to terms with New England.
In last season’s AFC Championship game, Welker and Talib were involved in a controversial collision that knocked Talib out of the game, which Denver won, 26-16, to advance to the Super Bowl. Patriots coach Bill Belichick called Welker’s hit “one of the worst plays I’ve seen,” but the NFL imposed no discipline.
According to Denver Post reporter Mike Klis, the Broncos called Welker before escalating negotiations with Talib, and Welker gave a “ringing endorsement.”
Talib said he had not spoken to Welker.
“Not yet. I’m sure I will," he said. “Wes is a good friend of mine.
“I’ve watched the play a thousand times and I can promise you he didn’t do it on purpose.”
Talib said the injury that took him out of the AFC Championship game — he described it as a deep bone bruise — has healed and he is ready to play.
He was listed at times last season with a hip injury, but USA Today’s Lindsay Jones later reported that Talib said he has not had a hip injury since he played in Tampa and that the Patriots misreported what was actually a quadriceps injury. According to NFL.com’s Judy Battista, Talib said the “Patriots have their own way of reporting injuries.”
Talib also said he was surprised to land in Denver alongside quarterback Peyton Manning.
“Peyton is a great quarterback," he said. “I had the opportunity to be on the other side of it a couple times last year, and the opportunity to play with him and that offense and defense, coach [John] Fox, it was a surprise to me.
“It was definitely a surprise, but I’m just excited. I can’t wait to get to work.”