Dontari Poe’s tenure in Kansas City has come to an end.
On Thursday, the Atlanta Falcons announced they’ve agreed to a deal with Poe, a 26-year-old two-time Pro Bowler. ESPN reported the deal is for one year and $8 million, with an additional $2 million in incentives.
The most notable thing about the contract is that it is not that far off from the one-year, $8 million pact the Chiefs recently signed with free-agent defensive tackle Bennie Logan, a strong run-stopper who will have an opportunity to replace Poe in the middle of the Chiefs’ 3-4 defense.
Chiefs coach general manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid made it clear at the NFL Scouting Combine that they wanted Poe back. But after the club declined to place the franchise tag on him — which would have been around $13 million — it was also clear that they wanted him back at the right price.
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Poe, 26, took multiple free-agent visits over the last week, traveling to Indianapolis, Atlanta, Jacksonville and Miami. But at the end of the day, he decided to take a one-year “prove-it” deal with the Falcons, whose assistant general manager — Scott Pioli — selected Poe with the 11th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft back when he was general manager of the Chiefs.
Pioli was relieved of his duties in KC after the disastrous 2-14 season that ensued, but Poe went on to have a productive five-year stint with the Chiefs. His most productive seasons came in 2013 (51 tackles, 4 1/2 sacks and seven hurries in 975 snaps) and 2014 (45 tackles, six sacks and eight hurries in 944 snaps). He made the Pro Bowl each of those years.
But he had back surgery to repair a herniated disk in the summer of 2015. The 6-foot-3, 346-pounder only missed one game that year, recording 39 tackles, a sack and three hurries in 15 games, but his snap count dropped to 759.
In 2016, Poe didn’t miss a snap as he recorded a career-high nine pressures in 885 snaps, 16th-most among all NFL defensive linemen, to go along with 27 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks. He also rushed for and threw for a touchdown on gimmick plays called “Hungry Pig Right” and “Tebow Pop Pass.”
Poe’s departure leaves the Chiefs’ interior defensive line with Logan, and two returning starters (Allen Bailey and Jaye Howard) who are coming off season-ending injuries.
Second-round rookie Chris Jones finished second on the team in snaps but was first among all Chiefs defensive linemen with 28 tackles, 10 hurries and four passes defensed, and second-year pro Rakeem Nunez-Roches also took advantage of Howard and Bailey’s injuries to post career-highs of 23 tackles and three hurries.