Englewood, Colo. • The Denver 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 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 Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who entered free agency without a new deal from the Broncos.
Ward had 129 tackles and two interceptions for Cleveland last year.
Talib was a shutdown corner for New England in 2013. He hurt his knee early in the AFC Championship against Denver when he was bumped by Wes Welker on a crossing route.
Ward had 129 tackles and two interceptions for Cleveland last year. 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.
But the Broncos aren’t expected to make the sort of free-agent plays that marked their last two seasons, when they signed Wes Welker and Peyton Manning.
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.
Caldwell was held without a catch in the 43-8 loss to Seattle in the Super Bowl.
"Hopefully I can compete for an extended role this year and contribute a lot more to the team," Caldwell said.
Caldwell received an invitation from Manning to attend offseason workouts at Duke University. Last spring, only Welker,
Demaryius Thomas and Decker were invited to work on their chemistry with the five-time NFL MVP quarterback.
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