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Report: Falcons land mammoth defensive tackle Dontari Poe in 2017 free agency

The veteran defensive tackle could be a difference maker for an Atlanta defense lacking strength in the middle.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons were rumored to be courting Dontari Poe since before free agency officially began, and while it has been a bit of a roller coaster ride since then with multiple visits to other teams, they wound up with the Kansas City defensive tackle after all.

We don’t know the terms yet, but we’ll update this story once we have them.

Poe’s allure for the Falcons is fairly obvious. This is a compact, 346 pound defensive tackle who has shown a gift for eating space and getting involved against the run, and he’ll only be 27 years old when this upcoming season kicks off. He’s been durable (at least 13 starts in each of his five seasons) and pretty productive (155 tackles and 13 sacks), though he has just 47 tackles and 2.5 sacks over his last two seasons. For a team that only had Grady Jarrett and Ra’Shede Hageman under contract as reliable rotation options, Poe is an immediate impact player who should get a ton of snaps, especially on early downs.

The downside here is that Poe is not likely to have been cheap, and that he’s rumored to be dealing with back trouble, and back trouble is not something you want to be thinking about for your nearly 350 pound free agent acquisition. He’s not going to be Tyson Jackson 2.0, but he’s not a particularly gifted pass rusher and figures to cede playing time on many third downs and nickel sets to the team’s stable of inside-out players, including Derrick Shelby, Adrian Clayborn, Courtney Upshaw, and recently-signed Jack Crawford.

It’s a useful addition, then, but we’ll need to see Poe fit into this defense before we go calling it a great one. If he can be a force against the run, chip in as a pass rusher a bit and prove to be a tangible upgrade on the likes of T-Jax and Jonathan Babineaux, I doubt we’ll have much to complain about.