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  • The defending NFC champions get a big boost inside and all along the defensive line if Dontari Poe can stay healthy in 2017.
By Chris Burke
March 16, 2017

Dontari Poe probably can’t (or at least, shouldn’t) continue to handle the workload Kansas City gave him in recent seasons, and he may never again match the 6.0 sacks he posted in 2014. What Poe can do, though, is chew up space along the line and help shut down the run.

Even if that’s all Atlanta gets out of the veteran defensive tackle, it might be enough. The Falcons on Thursday announced they had come to terms with Poe on a contract, which ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports will be for one year and $8 million (with extra available via bonuses).

“Poe is an athletic, big guy that can push the pocket,” Atlanta GM Thomas Dimitroff said in a statement. “He will add to our defensive line group and will mix nicely with [Vic] Beasley, [Grady] Jarrett, [Derrick] Shelby and [Adrian] Clayborn. We are happy to be able to add him to our roster.”

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Dimitroff did not mention in that comment names like Ra’Shede Hageman, Brooks Reed and the recently re-signed Courtney Upshaw—read into those omissions however you’d like. Regardless, the Falcons had a well-stocked line to begin with, and they added to it by convincing Poe to join.

Possible bonuses aside, Poe’s one-year, $8 million contract matches what the Chiefs reportedly gave DT Bennie Logan, considered to be Poe’s replacement in Kansas City.

The Falcons’ plethora of options up front will continue to allow coach Dan Quinn to be creative with his personnel, mixing and matching as the situation demands. Poe was a three-down player in Kansas City, to the point that he rarely came off the field. He should have more of a chance to catch his breath with the Falcons.

His arrival does free up Jarrett to play more at the three-tech, as opposed to nose tackle. Poe, when he is on the field, figures to be lined up over the ball. That very well could help Jarrett maintain his upward trajectory, following a dominant Super Bowl 51.

Poe has battled back issues, so his health is a primary concern—that he was available on a one-year deal speaks to this issue. Again, limiting his snap count only would help there.

The last two years have not seen Poe dominate the way he once did, but he’s still a load along the D-line and a clear upgrade for the Falcons. Grade: A-minus.

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