Watch: The Falcons Are Making a Big Mistake in Passing on Brian Poole

Tom Pollin

On Friday the Atlanta Falcons informed nickelback Brian Poole that he wouldn’t be tendered as a restricted free agent. The tender amount for 2019 is expected to be in the $2 million range. Unlike their other moves this offseason, this is one player the Falcons are going to regret letting get away.

The issue isn’t about not wanting him back, they do. The issue is that the Falcons want him back at a bargain price. What they’re missing is the tender amount is not a bad price for what has become an important cog in every defense in the NFL.

Nickelbacks are no longer part of sub-packages on defense. The position requires above average play recognition abilities and speed. There’s no sideline to help a nickel with coverage. He must recognize sets consisting of three receivers, two tight ends or running backs lining up in the slot. He must cover across the middle and if he gets beat, there’s no catching up. He also has responsibilities on running plays and blitzes.

In 2018, Poole intercepted three passes, recovered three fumbles and registered three sacks. He was credited with 74 combined tackles, fourth on the team, with four for loss and five quarterback hits. That’s a ton of production out of a 26-year old who has only missed one game in his three-season career.

Currently, the plan is to have Damontae Kazee slide from free safety to the nickelback position. Kazee tied Kyle Fuller of the Chicago Bears and Xavien Howard of the Miami Dolphins for most interceptions in the NFL last season with seven. The questionable part of the 2019 plan though is counting on Ricardo Allen, who’s coming back from an Achille’s tear, and Keanu Neal, who’s returning from an ACL injury, to be back at full strength. They’ll also need Isaiah Oliver to step in as a starter at cornerback opposite Desmond Trufant.

That’s asking the Falcons to hit on 16 three times at the blackjack table and win each hand. A player with Poole’s talents won’t have to take a bargain contract just to be on a roster next season. With him, the Falcons were sitting on 21 and threw in the hand.

Comments (6)
No. 1-3
Small Mind
Small Mind

The Falcons legacy of failing to recognize talent is continued. This is the same pattern that allowed Gerald Riggs, R. C. Thielman, Deion Sanders, and Bret Favre to find Super Bowl Championships and HOF status with other teams. I can understand allowing players with NFL talent to continue their careers with other teams, but the Falcons failed to recognize and compensate HOFers with the idea that they could easily be replaced. Does anyone remember who replaced Deion Sanders? Nobody remembers and nobody has replaced him. After their 2012 loss to the forty-niners, the Falcons decided to part ways with offensive lineman Harvey Dahl and Todd McClure. They have struggled to make third and one ever since. They had no idea that their running game was the reason they made that 2012 championship. It proved their very presence in that game was luck. After their loss to the New England Patriots in the 2016 Superbowl, they allowed not only the architect of their potent offense to leave but his disciples and anyone who had an inkling as to what made it work to fly away. Sorry Dan but the defense wasn't the reason for their success that year. So it doesn't surprise me that this coaching staff is following the tradition of futility. I expect this to be Dan Quinns' last year or next to it. After all, we let Bret Favre go because we had Billy Joe Tolliver!!


Look we may have a legacy of failure but this move does not coincide with that. Poole is a great run defender but as nickel cb he is mediocre. He has always been a liability in coverage and we shouldn't overpay a CB like him if he cantdo his primary job. His stats are no doubt impressive but there is a reason this article doesnt go into coverage skills. He is a great tackler and I hope does well elsewhere but you dont over pay a CB who is a subpar coverage guy. Especially when you have the emergence kazee. Calm down.

Small Mind
Small Mind

Hold up Home Team, You've missed my point entirely.You said that Brian Poole shouldn't be mentioned with the others. I'm not saying who should or should not be in the HOF. I'm not judging talent. The NFL has done that for me. Poole is a young man and the NFL will tally up his score not you or me.I don't know where Poole will eventually end up. But, I guarantee you for everyone of those guys I mentioned, there was somebody on the Falcons staff that said" Ahh he aint that good." so if he becomes a stellar player for someone else or wins a Superbowl. You might qualify as a member of the Falcons coaching staff. Now you know what's ridiculous? Pipping up about things you're not sure about. Todd McClure tweeted in September 2013 that he wanted to play that year. The Falcons moved on from him! Harvey Dahl played three more years with the Rams. So you're pretty wrong about that retirement thing. R. C. Thielman was traded to the Redskins. He became a member of a legendary offensive line known as the Hogs. Do you know what we got for him? We got downtown Charley Brown. Ten years previously that might have been a good deal. When we got him, he was too slow to catch a bus downtown. Deion Sanders wanted to be paid. The Falcons didn't think he was worth the money. Look it up! Brett Favre was no different than any other NFL rookie. Do you know what Dan Reeves said about being an NFL rookie? "You've got a pocketful of money and a hard -on . You wanna get rid of both of em in one night!" Whether or not Bret Favre becomes a HOFer in Atlanta is debatable. Most people say we didn't have the coaching.....Did you know teams change coaches??!!! Guess what? some coaches actually look to see whats on your roster before they make a decision!!! I aint lying! But a piece of Bret Favre is a damn sight better than ALL of Billy Joe Tolliver. I didn't say anything about Kyle Shanahan for a reason. His name is irrelavant. The fact is it was the 2016 offense that took the Falcons to the Superbowl not Dan Quinns defense. The Falcons complely overlooked that fact and let everyone of those guys on the offensive staff go. Matt Lefleur went on to the Rams in 2017 and set up the offense that played in the Superbowl this year. Lefleur should have stepped into Shanahans shoes as the O.C. He was the heir apparent....unless you are the Falcons. My point is if you take all of this as a total picure, you will see a pattern emerge. A pattern of ineptitude when it comes to talent aquistion, recognition and development. And as far as painting misguided narratives You're a damn sight better than me!