- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 12, 2014

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) - The Denver Broncos locked up a shutdown cornerback, only his name wasn’t Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

The Broncos spent the first day of free agency bolstering their defensive backfield, agreeing to a four-year deal with Pro Bowl safety T.J. Ward on Tuesday afternoon and then hours later reaching an agreement on a six-year contract with cornerback Aqib Talib.

Talib and Ward will play in a secondary that will be without Champ Bailey, who was released last week, and may be moving on from Rodgers-Cromartie, who entered free agency without a new deal from the Broncos.

The 28-year-old Talib had quite a year for New England last season, with teams largely choosing to go the other way rather than pick on him.

Sound familiar? It was the same way for Bailey in his prime.

By agreeing to a deal, Talib seemed to show there’s no bad blood between him and the Broncos after he hurt his knee early in the AFC championship game against Denver when he was bumped by Wes Welker on a crossing route. The league’s officiating chief later ruled it a legal hit by Welker.

ESPN first announced the agreement with Talib, which is reportedly worth $57 million. The Broncos also are reportedly interested in defensive lineman DeMarcus Ware, who was released by Dallas on Tuesday in a salary-cap move.

Talib will be reunited with cornerback Chris Harris Jr., who’s also a former Kansas Jayhawk. Harris played opposite of Rodgers-Cromartie last season before blowing out a knee against San Diego in the divisional round.

Harris later posted on his Twitter account: “I had to call my Fam Talib to see if it was real.”

Yep, it’s real.

The Broncos also brought in Ward, who had 129 tackles and two interceptions for Cleveland in 2013. The Broncos are looking for some stability at a position that got juggled last year, with the loss of Rahim Moore and the inconsistent play of Duke Ihenacho. Veteran Mike Adams, also formerly of Cleveland, started the season as a reserve but ended up in the starting lineup.

“He’s a young, explosive strong safety who is going to bring a lot of energy and toughness to our secondary,” Broncos boss John Elway said of Ward.

Denver’s big receiving news Tuesday was a two-year extension for fourth receiver Andre Caldwell, who could move up a notch if the Broncos part ways with Eric Decker.

Caldwell came on late in the season when Welker was sidelined with a concussion. The 28-year-old Caldwell had 11 of his 16 receptions over the final three games of the season.

His most productive game in 2013 was against San Diego on Dec. 12, when he had six receptions for 59 yards and two TDs.

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