Source: Falcons won’t tender RFA Poole
ProFootballTalk first reported the news.
The source told ESPN the Falcons would like to bring back Poole, but just not at the price of the RFA tender. The low-level tender is projected to be just over $2 million.
Poole will test free agency to see what type of market develops. If he leaves, as expected, the Falcons are likely to turn to Damontae Kazee in the nickelback role. Coach Dan Quinn said at season’s end he projected Kazee as either a nickel or safety after Kazee had a breakout 2018 at free safety, tying for the league lead with seven interceptions.
The Falcons expected Ricardo Allen back from an Achilles tear to start at free safety, which would lead to Kazee playing a different role in 2019. The Falcons also expect one-time Pro Bowler Keanu Neal back from last year’s season-ending ACL tear to start at strong safety. And the team will have a new starting cornerback — likely second-year player Isaiah Oliver — after cutting starter Robert Alford, who signed with the Arizona Cardinals.
Starting cornerback Desmond Trufant also has played some in the slot, but the Falcons are expected to keep Trufant outside. Kazee played outside at corner in college at San Diego State, but the Falcons played him at nickel and safety from the outset.
As for Poole, he has been valuable after entering the league undrafted out of Florida. He has started 21 of 47 games, including nine last season. Over that span, he played 2,167 defensive snaps. Poole had three interceptions in 2018 to go with 71 tackles, two fumble recoveries and three sacks as a blitzer. Poole also had three tackles on special teams.
If Poole signs elsewhere, the Falcons will have to address their depth at cornerback either through free agency or the draft.
Poole made $630,000 last season.