FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today's Early Bird Report includes a report explaining why the Redskins trading for Alex Smith is ultimately good news for Matt Ryan as well as what that trade means for the rest of the league.
FALCONS HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
ESPN: Kirk Cousins to free agency good news for Ryan
In the first major trade of the year, the Chiefs traded quarterback Alex Smith to the Redskins for cornerback Kendall Fuller and a third-round draft pick. The trade means Pro Bowl quarterback Kirk Cousins is likely headed for free agency, which ESPN's Vaugh McClure says is good news for Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.
"If Cousins is unrestricted, I fully expect him to be the highest paid player in the league," former NFL agent and current CBS Sports contract analyst Joel Corry told McClure. "Then you have a new floor for Matt Ryan. By the 15th or 16th of March, [Cousin's] done. That deal will be in place. Let's say some team goes hog wild and makes Cousins the first $30-million-per-year player. You don't have a choice but to make Matt Ryan the second and give him more than Cousins."
At the team's end-of-season press conference, Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff explained that getting a deal done for Ryan was among the franchise's top priorities heading into the offseason. The thinking is that a new deal for Ryan will help create flexibility for the Falcons to sign their other free agents and potentially pursue other available players.
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BIGGEST NEWS FROM AROUND THE NFL
*Sports Illustrated: *What the Alex Smith trade means for both teams, the league
The fallout from the Alex Smith trade impacts not just the Chiefs and Redskins but the rest of the league as well. Peter King detailed some of the ripple effects that could occur after the trade for Monday Morning Quarterback.
With Smith now locked up in Washington for the foreseeable future, King expects Kirk Cousins to have several bidders on the open market. King believes the Jets, Broncos and Browns are the most likely teams to make a run for Cousins, and each could benefit from having a veteran quarterback leading their offense.
When the Chiefs opted to draft Patrick Mahomes with the 10th overall pick in last year's draft, King says the writing was on the wall for Smith. The veteran wasn't entirely disappointing in 2017, but he didn't do enough to stave off the young gunslinger.
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