When Kendall Fuller first heard rumors of a trade with Kansas City involving him, he let followers on Twitter know that he wasn’t going anywhere.
Then he got a message from his agent. Then Fuller decided to get off of Twitter.
Turns out, of course, that Fuller was traded by the Washington Redskins to the Chiefs along with a third-round pick in exchange for quarterback Alex Smith, a deal that becomes official on March 14. It was an odd turn of events for Fuller, considered a rising standout with the Redskins as a slot corner. Washington did not want to give him up, but in order to get the quarterback it wanted -- now and for the next few years -- Fuller was included.
He’s a level-headed kid who never seems flustered or becomes emotional. He showed that same side during this podcast interview with ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Fuller told Schefter that he went to Redskins Park the day after the trade and met with coaches and team president Bruce Allen.
“It wasn’t too bad,” Fuller told Schefter. “It wasn’t like, ‘Oh, the Redskins, they were looking to get rid of me.’ They just saw this as the guy they needed to bring in. The Chiefs were bringing it to them like, ‘If you want this guy, you have to give up Kendall Fuller.’ All of them were upset that I had to go. It wasn’t like they were trying to kick me out the door. It was a little emotional.”
Fuller said it was more emotional talking with secondary coach Torrian Gray, who also coached him at Virginia Tech. He said Gray told him he was sorry to see Fuller go and that, “We know you’re going to do your thing. We know you’re going to turn out to be great. ... We even talked a little about what they were going to do moving forward. It was definitely a little bit weird.”
The Redskins’ coaches and his teammates liked Fuller for two reasons: his approach and his performance. Fuller excelled in the slot this season because he’s a smart player who reacts decisively. He was the Redskins’ cheapest corner among the top three, but the most consistent and the one who made the most plays.
Fuller impressed teammates with his study habits; he was considered a true student of the game because of how much film he watched -- he and safety D.J. Swearinger probably wore this label the most in the secondary. Some of that, perhaps a lot of it, no doubt stems from being the fourth in his family to play in the NFL. He said he remembered a time one offseason in which he and his three older brothers dug out a 10-foot area of snow just to do some drills outside.
It’s what Fuller will bring to the Chiefs. It’s what made it tough for Washington to include Fuller – but the Redskins now have a legitimate starting quarterback at a more affordable price. They do have other options at corner, with Quinton Dunbar and Fabian Moreau, opposite Josh Norman. They also have another potential slot corner in Josh Holsey, a seventh-round pick last April.
Meanwhile, Fuller said he has talked to multiple people with the Chiefs. Fuller has grown up in the DMV area -- being raised in Maryland and playing in college at Virginia Tech before being a third-round pick by the Redskins in 2016.
With Kansas City, he’ll join corner Marcus Peters among others in the secondary.
Fuller said he’s excited to see Peters’ skill set.
“Working with Josh Norman, you see what a lot of guys strengths are, you get to ... learn from him,” Fuller said on the podcast. “Seeing [Peters’] productivity over the last two or three years, how many plays he makes on the ball, so I’m just excited to see his mindset, film study and learn whatever I can and go in there and compete.”
Fuller was a mature player when the Redskins drafted him -- what he displayed with Washington, the coaches at Virginia Tech already saw him do. But Fuller said he learned from Norman’s mindset.
“It’s always the same,” Fuller said. “Every day he comes in he’s ready to hunt, no matter what he’s doing, whether it’s Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and especially on Sunday. Just that mindset you have to bring every day as a professional.”
Fuller said he’s heard via Twitter about the barbecue in Kansas City, but he’s not too familiar with the area. He visited his older brother Corey when he ran track at the University of Kansas for two years. But he knows enough about the Chiefs.
“Really, just the success they’ve had the last couple years,” Fuller said. “They went to the playoffs four of the last five years. Just watching them defensively, the front seven they have. … I know they have a really young quarterback they’re excited in. I’m excited to work with those boys and compete and help us win a championship.”