FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today's Early Bird Report includes a new destination for one former Falcons coach who was popular among a portion of the fan base as well as the NFL's first blockbuster trade of 2018.
FALCONS HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
ESPN: Titans hire Matt LaFleur to run their offense
After interviewing him for their vacant head coach position, the Titans have hired former Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur to occupy the same role and handle the play-calling duties – something he wasn't doing in Los Angeles.
LaFleur is a name that should be familiar to Falcons fans, as he spent two seasons in Atlanta as the team's quarterbacks coach in 2015 and 2016. Following the departure of Kyle Shanahan, a portion of the fan base wanted LaFleur to be promoted to offensive coordinator with the Falcons in order to have a play-caller who worked with Shanahan directly in Atlanta.
During his first season with the Rams, LaFleur did not call plays, despite holding the title of offensive coordinator. Instead, first-year head coach Sean McVay called played for the Rams' offense.
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BIGGEST NEWS FROM AROUND THE NFL
Kansas City Star: Chiefs trade Alex Smith to Redskins
In the first major trade of 2018, the Chiefs and Redskins agreed to a trade that would send quarterback Alex Smith to Washington in return for cornerback Kendall Fuller and a 2018 third-round pick, according to The Kansas City Star.
Once the trade is finalized on March 14 – the start of the new league year – the Redskins are expected to give Smith a four-year contract extension worth $94 million, including a staggering $71 million in guaranteed money.
The trade leaves quarterback Kirk Cousins in limbo for the time being, and speculation has begun as to where he might land. The Redskins have refused to give Cousins a long-term deal, instead using the franchise tag on him for the last two seasons. Since being drafted by the Redskins in 2012, Cousins has thrown for 16,206 yards with 99 touchdowns and 55 interceptions.
Often considered a quarterback with a limited arm, Smith began the 2017 season on a tear and garnered some early MVP buzz during the first half of the year. The three-time Pro Bowler finished 2017 with 4,042 yards, 26 touchdowns and five interceptions.
This solves a bit of a quarterback problem for Kansas City, which drafted Patrick Mahomes with the 10th overall pick in last year's draft to be its future at the position. While he started only one game for the Chiefs in 2017, Mahomes completed 63 percent of his passes and threw for 284 yards with one interception.
Fuller is also a nice pickup for the Chiefs, who have struggled to find a suitable No. 2 cornerback to pair with Marcus Peters. Fuller has two years remaining on his rookie deal and made six starts for the Redskins last season, intercepting four passes and registering 54 combined tackles.
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