The Atlanta Falcons decided against extending a tender offer to cornerback Brian Poole, making him an unrestricted free agent. As with the previous moves this offseason, the team made the correct decision.
The offseason restructuring continues, as the Atlanta Falcons attempt to put themselves back into Super Bowl contention. Cornerback Brian Poole is the latest victim of the Atlanta purge. He joins cornerback Robert Alford, defensive end Brooks Reed and kicker Matt Bryant as players the Atlanta Falcons elected to turn away from.
Brian Poole is a 5’10 211 pound defensive back. He came to the Falcons undrafted via the University of Florida in 2016. He has spent the past three seasons with the club. Poole primarily plays the slot cornerback position. Poole has four interceptions and 24 passes defended in his career. One area that Poole excels at is blitzing. He has five career sacks and 11 tackles for a loss. Poole was rated as one of the best slot cornerbacks in the league during his rookie season, a season in which Atlanta played in the Super Bowl.
Check out this video of Brian Poole wearing a microphone during the final preseason game of his rookie year, via the Atlanta Falcons official YouTube site:
Brian has seen his play steadily decline since his rookie season. His Pro Football Focus Grade reflects that, lowering each of the last three seasons. He graded 69.1 in 2016, 66.3 in 2017 and a career low 61.7 this past season. He also recorded a career low coverage grade of 60.5. Poole surrendered a career high four touchdowns, and allowed a career worse 11.5 yards per reception.
Missed tackles have been a problem for Brian Poole. He missed a career high 14 last season, and has missed a whopping 37 tackles in three seasons. He also has a tendency to commit penalties. He has drawn 17 flags in three seasons and tied a career worse with seven in the 2018 campaign.
The Atlanta Falcons opted against extending a tender offer to Brian Poole. Had the team chose to do so, Poole would have become restricted free agent. This would have allowed him to seek a long-term offer sheet from another team. Atlanta would then have had the option to match the offer, or receive compensation equal to the tender placed on Poole.
The Falcons had three options when it came to extending a qualifying offer to Brian Poole. They could have offered him a first round tender. This would have given him a guaranteed salary just short of 2.9 million dollars, or the Atlanta Falcons a first round pick in compensation, had he chose to sign elsewhere. They could have also offered a second round tender which comes with a guaranteed salary just short of 2.1 million dollars.
The third option in restricted free agency would have been to place an original round tender on Brian Poole. This would have secured the Atlanta Falcons right to match any offer for Brian, as well as guaranteed a salary just north of 1.3 million dollars for Poole. However since Poole was undrafted, there would have been no compensation for him if he signed with another club and the Falcons chose not to match.
Given the options presented to the Atlanta Falcons, Thomas Dimitroff and Dan Quinn were smart to not offer a tender to Brian Poole. Giving Poole a guaranteed salary of 2.9 or 2.1 million, just doesn’t make financial sense at this time. The Falcons are faced with having to sign studs defensive tackle Grady Jarrett and wide receiver Julio Jones to new contracts. Matt Ryan‘s contract extension also kicks in this season. Contract extensions also loom for Pro Bowl defenders Deion Jones and Keanu Neal.
The original round tender made no sense either, as Poole will likely receive more than 1.3 million, leaving Atlanta with no compensation. If Brian Poole doesn’t find the contract he is looking for and the Atlanta Falcons don’t find cost-effective cornerback depth, the two sides could always agree on a reunion. However for the time being, the Atlanta Falcons made the right choice to let a player hit free agency for the fourth time this offseason.
Now the natural thing to wonder is who could possibly be the next to go? A decision is due soon on Vic Beasley and his 12.8 million dollar fifth year contract option. The deal becomes fully guaranteed on March 13. I have long contended that the Atlanta Falcons can not afford to pay such a lofty salary to Beasley, when his production just doesn’t match. My colleague at Atl All Day Kit Anderson agreed in this article.
One option would be to sign Beasley to a long-term deal, which would lower his cap number for the upcoming season. Yet I would contend that the Atlanta Falcons would just be signing up for more years of disappointment. I am of the opinion that the Atlanta Falcons should resign Bruce Irvin and cut their losses with Vic Beasley. Our Kit Anderson mentioned moving on from Beasley in this January piece. Matthew Chambers of the Falcoholic wrote this article, that contains everything you need to know about the Vic Beasley fifth year option.
Right tackle Ryan Schraeder who was benched and complained about it late last season, is another prime candidate to be cut. He would cost the team just 1.3 million in dead cap money, while saving nearly 6.5 million, should he be cut with a post June 1st designation. This is a move that the Atlanta Falcons should strongly consider making.
Mohamed Sanu is another candidate to be cut, based on the financial numbers. Like Ryan Schraeder, cutting Sanu marked post June 1 would only cost Atlanta 1.4 million dollars, while saving more than 6.2 million dollars against the salary cap. Unlike Schraeder, Mohamed Sanu is still producing at a high level.
Not only did Sanu catch 66 passes for 838 yards and four touchdowns, he also cut his drops down from five to one. Sanu was the fifth highest rated Falcon on offense by Pro Football Focus with a 71.6. Playing Mohamed Sanu at quarterback in the 12-gage formation, is also one of the most effective short yardage plays the Falcons ran last season. The Falcons front office would be wise to hang on to Mohamed Sanu despite the emergence of Calvin Ridley.
While it’s unknown what will happen next, there are certain to be more changes as the Atlanta Falcons attempt to reclaim the NFC South and capture that elusive first Super Bowl Championship. We will certainly find out more of the exciting developments, as we head toward March and the start of new NFL league year.
For more grades, advanced statistics and more at Pro Football Focus, subscribe to PFF’s EDGE or ELITE subscriptions at ProFootballFocus.com.