Rams trade for WR Brandon Lloyd

Updated: October 17, 2011, 9:45 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Tim Tebow has lost his top target even before making his first start of the season.

The Denver Broncos traded Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Lloyd, the league's leading receiver last year, to the St. Louis Rams on Monday.

The Rams gave up a sixth-round pick in the 2012 draft that could become a fifth-round pick if Lloyd catches 30 passes this season for St. Louis.

In an interview with ESPN's "SportsCenter" on Monday, Lloyd said he was "extremely happy" with the trade. Although the Rams, winless on the season, have struggled offensively, Lloyd said a "jolt of confidence" could be all that it takes to turn their struggling offense around.

"I don't see a terrible situation. I see it as a positive situation," he said.

The Rams announced later Monday that they released wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker, who had signed a one-year deal with St. Louis in July. Sims-Walker was inactive Sunday after he dropped three passes, including one for a potential touchdown, during a 17-10 defeat to the Washington Redskins on Oct. 2.

"Wanna thank the rams organization and fans for the short stay, I am a better player and Man because of yall, best of luck," Sims-Walker posted on Twitter.

The NFL's trade deadline is Tuesday.

The move comes a week after Tebow supplanted Kyle Orton at quarterback and six days before Tebow's first start at Miami.

Lloyd stressed his desire to leave Denver was unrelated to the Broncos' quarterback switch last week.

"This had nothing to do with Tim," Lloyd told 104.3 The Fan radio station in Denver. "I'm like everybody else, I find it hard not to like the kid and I have a lot of respect for him and a lot of respect for what he wants to accomplish in his career.

"I think this move creates the space for Denver to really find out what they want to do with the organization and the same thing for me. It puts me in a situation where maybe a team will want to look at me long-term or maybe I can fill a void for a season for St. Louis and get those guys back on track."

While the trade provides opportunities for young receivers Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Matt Willis, it also opens the organization to increased scrutiny in the midst of its 1-4 start.

"We think it's a position of strength," Broncos coach John Fox said of his receiving corps. "We've got some guys coming back -- Demaryius Thomas, Eddie Royal -- and (we like) the emergence of Eric Decker."

Lloyd said he would play Sunday against Dallas.

Lloyd will be reunited with Josh McDaniels, the Rams' offensive coordinator who was the head coach of the Broncos last season when the receiver led the league with 1,448 yards receiving, catching 77 passes, 11 of them for touchdowns.

"That helps tremendously. There shouldn't be any kind of learning curve," Rams general manager Billy Devaney said.

The 30-year-old Lloyd is in the final year of his deal that pays him about $1.4 million this season.

Broncos football chief John Elway said he appreciated Lloyd's hard work and wished him well, adding via Twitter: "I'm excited about our wide receiver group -- This is as healthy as we've been at that position since the start of the year. Our young WRs have really emerged and made some plays, and this is a great opportunity for them to continue to step up."

The remaining receivers learned of Lloyd's departure when he was absent from their morning meeting Monday.

"It's, 'The decision has been made, it's you guys left in the room, let's make the most of it, go out there and play hard,' " Decker said of management's message. "Nothing's changed. Guys aren't scared. They just know that more opportunities are here now and we've got to make the most of them."

The winless Rams need another downfield threat for a banged-up offense led by quarterback Sam Bradford, who is dealing with a high left ankle sprain.

Lloyd missed one game with a strained groin this season and has caught 19 passes for a team-high 283 yards but hasn't reached the end zone yet.

During his breakout 2010 season, Lloyd had 18 catches for 25 yards or more and posted the third-highest receiving average (18.8 yards) since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.

The Rams (0-5) are averaging less than 10 points a game and they've lacked a finishing touch. going with a young unsung crew that includes undrafted receivers Brandon Gibson and Danario Alexander and rookies Greg Salas and Austin Pettis. Veteran Mark Clayton is set to come off the PUP list.

Now that Orton's no longer calling the plays, the Broncos are expected to go to even more of a ball-control offense under Tebow, a scrambler who lacks the precise passing Orton usually displayed.

Royal also is set to become a free agent after this season and is reportedly available before Tuesday's trade deadline, as well. But there's not as much interest in the injury-prone fourth-year pro who hasn't played since straining a groin against the Bengals on Sept. 18.

Royal returned to practice last week and is expected to play Sunday at Miami if all goes well this week.

Also expected back is Thomas, who's been sidelined all year. He missed training camp while rehabbing from a torn right Achilles tendon, and the Broncos made the surprising move of keeping him on their 53-man roster rather than placing him on the PUP list to start the season.

That move backfired when Thomas shattered his left pinkie during his first padded practice last month, sidelining him until this week.

Both Thomas and Royal were practicing in the rain Monday along with rookie tight end Julius Thomas, who sprained his right ankle in Week 2.

Like it was a week earlier over Orton's benching, the Broncos' locker room was melancholy following Lloyd's exit.

"One of the most talented players I've played with," Champ Bailey said. "I wish him well. It (stinks) to lose a guy with that kind of talent.

"When you look at it from a front office standpoint, if he's going to leave after the season, better get something for him now," Bailey added. "It's almost like that Carmelo (Anthony) deal. It's just the way it is, the nature of the business. You take a hit like that, you keep on moving."

Information from ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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