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Former Falcons DT Dontari Poe heads to Carolina Panthers on deal

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A surprising bummer sees Poe say in the division.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

After Thomas Dimitroff indicated that Dontari Poe would hit free agency for a lucrative deal, we knew that’d be that for the defensive tackle’s time with the Falcons.

His new home is, well, a bit disconcerting.

So, Poe’s off to Carolina on a three-year deal that NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport says is worth $9-10 million per season.

It’s a move that makes you grimace for a number of reasons. First, it’s hard proof the team has a definite gap at defensive tackle, one that, as of now, will have to be filled with the first pick in the 2018 draft. That feels like a lock right now, unless Atlanta thinks they can get a starting-caliber player in the second or third rounds to play the run. Second, Poe heads to a division rival and pairs up with dangerous DT Kawann Short. The Panthers arguably upgraded the spot after losing Star Lotulelei to the Bils, and retain their interior edge. Third, this is a deal the Falcons probably could’ve cut if they’d had the money. But, with lots of extensions coming up and the tight cap this season, it flew out of their range and Poe flew over to Charlotte.

With the Eagles adding Michael Bennett and Haloti Ngata to their already-fearsome defensive front, the Vikings hosting Sheldon Richardson on a visit for their already-gruesome unit, the Saints getting DT Ndamukong Suh in for a visit and Carolina adding Poe, a good chunk of the NFC playoff teams are looking to upgrade their defensive lines for 2018 with quality talent. The Falcons, hampered by a tight cap, must bide their time.

It’ll make you dizzy to try to rationalize how the Falcons plan to keep up with the rest of the NFC’s best teams in terms of defensive line momentum, but they’ve no doubt got a plan, one that’s likely to click together toward the end of April. It’s not out of reason to think they’ll invest heavily in the top rounds of the draft in defensive line talent. And, with Quinn one of the top eyes for defensive talent in the game right now, you have to be confident the Falcons will find a way to keep up with the competition where it counts with strong draft additions.

So, for now, we’ll wish Poe well, except for when he plays the Falcons, and hope that the Saints aren’t able to get that Suh deal done.