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Falcons Offseason News

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With NFL-high in performance-based pay, Brian Poole gets hit up by Falcons

6:11 PM ET
  • mcclure_vaughn_m.jpg&w=160&h=160&scale=c
    Vaughn McClureESPN Staff Writer

Word spread quickly on Wednesday about Atlanta Falcons nickelback Brian Poole getting a nice bonus.

Poole, an undrafted rookie out of Florida last season, led the entire league with $371,973.11 in performance-based pay. He topped Dallas Cowboys rookie quarterback Dak Prescott, who received $353,544.47.

Falcons wide receiver Taylor Gabriel playfully nudged Poole via Twitter and got a hilarious response:

Poole certainly earned it. He played in all 16 regular-season games and recorded 58 tackles, eight pass breakups, two fumble recoveries, an interception, and a sack. He also played in all three postseason games and had 15 tackles, two quarterbacks hits, and a tackle for loss.

The performance-based pay system usually benefits players in their first NFL contracts, or minimum-salaried free-agent signings who become significant contributors.

For those wondering, Poole made $453,500 during his first season, with a base salary of $450,000. Starting free safety Ricardo Allen was second on the team in performance-based pay at $342,712.65.

Here are the top 10 for the Falcons, with rookies being four of the top six:

*Gabriel, looking for a handout from Poole, was 12th at $110,026.45, behind LB Philip Wheeler's 
Brian Poole CB (rookie) $371,783,11.
Ricardo Allen SS $342,712.65
Grady Jarrett DT $189,684.63
Deion Jones LB (rookie) $185,227.93
De'Vondre Campbell LB (rookie) $158,693.36
Austin Hooper TE (rookie) $154,689.15
C.J. Goodwin DB $141,837.48
Devonta Freeman RB $140,543.23
Justin Hardy WR $129,632.93
Robert Alford CB $116,500.47

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Georgia's pro day attracts big turnout from Falcons


3:52 p.m. ET March 15, 2017  


ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — The decisions by running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel to return for their senior seasons left a thin class of Georgia prospects in the NFL draft.

That didn't keep Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn from attending Georgia's pro day on Wednesday, along with general manager Thomas Dimitroff, assistant general manager Scott Pioli and 10 more staff members.

"Knowing the players who have come through here, although there may not be as many high-profile names this year as in years past, there are some good football players here who will play their way onto rosters," Quinn said.

Quinn was the only NFL head coach at the event held at Georgia's new indoor facility. He said he'll also attend Georgia Tech's pro day on Friday.

According to the NCAA, Georgia ranked sixth in the nation with 41 players on NFL rosters at the start of the 2016 season.

Wide receiver and return specialist Isaiah McKenzie was the only Georgia player invited to the NFL combine held earlier this month in Indianapolis.

Georgia had 15 players participate in the pro day, including offensive linemen Greg Pyke, Brandon Kublanow and Tyler Catalina, defensive backs Maurice Smith and Quincy Mauger and receiver Reggie Davis.

All 32 NFL teams, plus the Canadian Football League's BC Lions, were represented.

"Georgia has got a great history of putting guys in the NFL," said Georgia coach Kirby Smart. "Even undrafted guys have had a lot of success."

Former Georgia center David Andrews, who was undrafted in 2015 but started every game for the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots in 2016, returned for Wednesday's event.

"There are so many good guys who don't go to the combine," Quinn said. "For those guys, this is their combine. This is our time to find out about them."

McKenzie acknowledged that academic problems contributed to his decision to bypass his senior season. McKenzie said he would have had to win an appeal to continue his career at Georgia if he had not entered the draft.

McKenzie led Georgia with 44 catches for 633 yards and seven touchdowns. He holds the school record with five punt returns for touchdowns.

McKenzie ran the 40 at 4.47 and 4.42 at the NFL combine and did not run again on Wednesday but he participated in the 60-yard shuttle.

Georgia did not release official times from the 40-yard dash. Davis, a former high school track star in Tallahassee, Florida, said he heard his times for his two runs were 4.31 seconds or better.

"I just wanted to come out here and kill the 40 and I feel like I did a good job with that," Davis said, adding he expected his times would help him earn an invitation to a training camp if he is not drafted.


More AP college football:

© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Poe agrees to one-year, $8 million deal with Falcons


D. Orlando Ledbetter The Atlanta Journal-Constitution1:01 p.m Thursday, March 16, 2017Atlanta Falcons

ajc | CLEMSON, S.C.


Coveted defensive tackle Dontari Poe, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, has agreed to a one-year, $8 million deal with the Falcons on Thursday.


Poe had visited with Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Atlanta and Miami in free agency after not being re-signed by the Kansas City Chiefs. He was slated to visit Oakland.


Poe is a 6-foot-3, 346-pounder from Memphis who was taken 11th overall in 2012 draft.


Poe made $6.1 million last season. The terms were undisclosed.


The Chiefs signed defensive tackle Bennie Logan to a one-year, $6.68 million deal that included a $1 million signing bonus on Tuesday, according to the Kansas City Star.


After not re-signing veteran Jonathan Babnineaux and releasing Tyson Jackson, the Falcons are looking to buttress their defensive tackle position behind Grady Jarrett.


“Poe is an athletic, big guy that can push the pocket,” general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “He will add to our defensive line group and will mix nicely with (Vic) Beasley, Jarrett, (Derrick) Shelby and (Adrian) Clayborn. We are happy to be able to add him to our roster.”


Poe has recorded 202 total tackles in 78 games played – 76 started – while also recording 13 sacks, 12 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.


Last season, Poe played in all 16 games, while recording 27 total tackles – 18 solo - with 1.5 sacks, three passes defensed, and one forced fumble.

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Poe aims to slim down for Falcons  


 1h ago
Dontari Poe has a new team and he plans to show off a new physique.

Now property of the Atlanta Falcons on a reported one-year, $8-million contract, Poe spoke to the Atlanta media Friday and shared that he'll shed some pounds for the 2017 season.

"(Coach Dan Quinn) just told me he wanted me to come in and play fast and be aggressive, so around 330 is where I'll play at most of the year," Poe said, according to Vaughn McClure of ESPN. "I feel like that will be a comfortable weight for me, too."

Poe was listed at 346 pounds last season and he said on Friday that he currently weighs 340 pounds.

The nose tackle also revealed that the team plans to also use him at the 3-technique. He'll be looked at to clog up the middle in run defense and help free up the team's pass-rushers.

"The best is definitely in front of me with this defense they are running out here," Poe said, Kelsey Conway of writes. "How (Quinn) explained how we will be playing; I feel like the best years are definitely coming up."


Copyright © 2017 Score Media Ventures Inc.

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Poe ready for tenure in Atlanta after being impressed by defensive unit


By Brandon

macon |  Atlanta 


The Atlanta Falcons’ top addition during the free agency period came from Dontari Poe, who will enter a defensive front that is young and full of talent.

After five seasons in Kansas City, Poe made the move to join the defending NFC champion Falcons.

The Chiefs opted to not give Poe a franchise tag, which would have kept him with the franchise for at least one more season. He said that he understood that the move was a part of business within the league, and it gave him the opportunity to travel nationwide to visit numerous teams.

After trips to Atlanta, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Miami and Oakland, Poe believed he fit best with the Falcons after visits with head coach Dan Quinn, general manager Thomas Dimitroff and assistant general manager Scott Pioli, who drafted the Memphis product while with Kansas City.

Poe signed a one-year, $8 million contract.

“Just the way they play football. It’s about being high energy, aggressive and doing what you do best,” Poe said. “As a D-lineman, that’s the best situation I can be in. (Coach Quinn said) he’s going to let me play ball, and he saw the success I’ve had and thought I can be a dominant player.

“I think it’ll be pretty good, because when I went up there, I saw a family-like atmosphere. Everyone there was cool and laid back. So I think I’ll fit in like a plug, and it should be fun.”

The addition of Poe will force Atlanta to reshuffle its defensive front. Poe is a nose tackle by trade but won’t necessarily unseat Grady Jarrett, who has been slated as the starter as he enters his third season.

Quinn told Poe he could potentially play in the 3-technique at times, and the Falcons’ newest addition is ready to fit where needed.

“It’s very attractive (to play at positions),” Poe said. “He’s going to let us play, so anywhere I can come in and help the team, I’m willing to do it.”

Atlanta’s defense improved during the team’s run to Super Bowl LI. Along with the duo of Clemson products in Jarrett and Vic Beasley, Atlanta also features second-year safety Keanu Neal and Desmond Trufant in its defensive backfield. Poe is being added to the Falcons’ pool of talent, and he is “real excited” about those around him.

The defensive line is a fairly inexperienced unit as both players and coaches are gaining exposure in the professional ranks. The Falcons rebooted their defensive coaches after the Super Bowl loss, adding coaches Bryant Young and Jess Simpson, who will enter their first NFL season. On the field, Poe will join Derrick Shelby and Courtney Upshaw as the elder statesmen.

Last season, Atlanta added 36-year-old Dwight Freeney to fill that leadership role. With Freeney being a free agent, the Falcons could turn to Poe for that role due to experience, but he could offer more production than Freeney, who is 10 years older than Poe.

“It is a young defense, so I’m coming in to do whatever I need,” Poe said. “If that’s something I need to do, then it’ll be addressed. I feel like my experience itself is big and that we can go out there and make plays. It’ll be about spreading the wealth, and we can go do what we need to do.”

Listed at 346 pounds, Poe is the largest defensive lineman in the NFL. He said he was told by Atlanta’s staff that the target weight is between 335 and 340 pounds. As his tenure begins, he’s willing to reach any weight desired by the coaches.

Poe collected 27 tackles and 11/2 sacks in 2016 with Kansas City. It was his lowest output of his five-year career, but at only 26, he’s confident in his potential with Atlanta.

“The best is definitely in front of me,” Poe said. “With this defense they’re running out there, the best years are definitely coming up.”

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Atlanta Falcons: Potential Draft Day Targets


by Matthew Brothers7 hours agoFollow @MBrothers15

ATL All Day  


With The NFL Draft coming on April 27th, what can the Atlanta Falcons do to help solidify this roster?

Don’t look now but this years draft is just 40 days away and counting. At pick number 31, Thomas Dimitroff and the Atlanta Falcons are looking for an impact player who can help right away. However, after signing Dontari Poe to a one year/8 million dollar deal to shore up the D-line, where else could Atlanta look?

Cam Robinson, Offensive Line, Alabama.

Surprisingly, it’s looking more and more like Robinson could potentially fall into the Falcons lap at number 31. Robinson is an ultra-talented lineman who’s blocked some of the best rushers playing in the SEC. Scouts Incorporated does not rank Robinson in their top 32 and his stock has fallen mainly because of potential pass protecting issues and average combine numbers. However, his game resume is impressive and I believe he can be an effective guard immediately and improve the Falcon offensive line. I hate reading into combine numbers as game tape in my opinion is better analysis of an overall player. Cam Robinson is a winner and a talented player that the Falcons would be hard-pressed to pass up if still available at number 31.

T.J Watt, Linebacker, Wisconsin.

T.J, the brother of J.J is an intriguing option. He only started one year for the Badgers but he has good upside. T.J is tall and athletic for the linebacker position so a move to edge rusher is possible. With the 350 pound Poe in the middle, Atlanta can afford to be slightly smaller in exchange for speed on the outside. I believe Watt will be available at 31 and could have the upside on defense that the Falcons are looking for.

Jordan Willis, Defensive End, Kansas State.

With the Atlanta Falcons still trying to improve the pass rush, Willis could be an option here. He has the speed to play alongside Vic Beasley and good enough hands to set the edge outside. Jordan Willis is also a safe bet to be available at pick number 31. If the Falcons don’t trade up Willis could be the best pass rusher available in this draft class.


Watching tape on players like Derek Barnett and Taco Charlton is exciting to say the least. Both strike me as immediate impact edge rushers that would likely be gone by 31 at this point. Atlanta is high on both players and Thomas Dimitroff is a GM not afraid to trade up. As far as the O-Line goes this years draft class is very thin so immediate talent could very well be gone by pick 31.

The Falcons are still waiting on whether Chris Chester will continue playing so he is still an option to return. Finally, with the Falcons working out a couple FCS stars in Derek Rivers and Tanoh Kpassagnon, Dan Quinn has plenty of options throughout the draft. I wouldn’t be surprised with any number of names or moves that come out of the Atlanta Falcons 2017 draft class. That’s the fun of the NFL offseason.

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As Falcons roll through pro days and workouts, keep an eye on Derek Rivers and Tanoh Kpassagnon


by Dave Choate Mar 18, 2017, 8:00am EDT

The Falcoholic  


The two young defensive linemen could be on the team’s radar in the early rounds.

We don’t know who the Atlanta Falcons will draft. What we do know is that we need to pay attention to those players they deem worthy of being put through private workouts, particularly if those are players who are arriving in the NFL at positions of need.

Nobody nailed more of Atlanta’s 2016 draft picks than Vaughn McClure (though I did pretty well, for a change), so you should pay attention when he’s singling players out, as he’s doing here. More to the point, the Falcons setting up private

Rivers is an intriguing player. He’s a little on the smallish side at under 250 pounds, but he’s also a plus athlete and an aggressive player who has an excellent three cone time, and the length that Quinn loves. Rivers has the upside to be Vic Beasley’s complement and a pass rushing force on the outside, and while it might take him some time, bulking up and coaching to get there, his particular athletic profile and college production makes it clear why the Falcons like him.

Kpassagnon isn’t the same caliber of edge player that Rivers is, and he’s a little raw at the moment. He has the length, strength, and athleticism to be a force at the next level, though, and most projections have him being able to play both defensive end and defensive tackle, a hybrid role that Dan Quinn clearly covets. With Adrian Clayborn and Courtney Upshaw both hitting free agency after this year, Kpassagnon is a potential high-caliber replacement.

The Falcons could make either of these players their first or second round pick, both because they fit and because Atlanta’s shown no fear of going for their preferred player earlier than draft experts are comfortable with. You should remember these names as we wind our way to April.


© 2017 Vox Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved Sports data © STATS 2016

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Falcons' Devonta Freeman determined to shake off Super Bowl 'scar'


Vaughn McClure | 9:12 AM ET


Atlanta Falcons two-time Pro Bowl running back Devonta Freeman vowed to move beyond his team's historic collapse in last month's Super Bowl loss to New England Patriots. At the same time, Freeman knows the empty feeling might stick for a while.

"That's like a scar you'll see forever," Freeman told ESPN. "You'll always remember that scar. It's about, 'How can I shake back?' In life, you've got to always learn how to shake back and have another elite year."

That the Falcons blew a 28-3 third-quarter lead in a 34-28 loss to the Patriots continues to be a topic of discussion this offseason. Critics still harp on the blunders, including then-offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan declining to run the ball late and Freeman missing a fourth-quarter block on Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower that led to Matt Ryan being sacked and losing a fumble -- resulting in a momentum-swinging touchdown for the Patriots.

Freeman was asked if there was anything he would take back from the game.

"Nothing," he said. "No play. Even the mistake I made with the missed block. When you look at a football game, you're talking about four quarters. You're talking about the best guys against the best guys on both sides of the ball. Mistakes are going to happen. If you're perfect in the NFL, something is not right. I don't know anybody who's perfect.

"My mistake is a scar. I'm going to learn from it. I'm going to get better from that. That's how I look at it."

Freeman said the loss will serve as inspiration heading into next season and beyond. The Falcons hope to make another strong run in 2017 behind reigning MVP Matt Ryan, wide receiver Julio Jones, Freeman and a rebuilt defense, led by the addition of two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Dontari Poe.

"If I dwell on the Super Bowl like, 'Oh man, we lost,' already, I lost," Freeman said. "I'm worried about something that I can't control that's over with and that's in the past. It's peanuts to me. You just move on from it. But until you win the Super Bowl, ain't nothing else going to feel better than winning that Super Bowl. I guarantee it. I don't care if I get 1,000 yards, 10 Pro Bowls. If I don't win that Super Bowl, I'm going to always remember that one Super Bowl we lost."

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Good to hear from Freeman. Sounds like he will be a man possessed next year, and really you have to hope most of our players will feel that way. If the offense comes back with a fire, I don't care if they set records as long as we can compete for 4 Quarters with a projected improvement on defense I see a good run again this year and hopefully we can close all games we have control of unlike that last game. Time for another run! 

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Julio Jones 'on schedule' after foot surgery, expects to be ready for camp


Vaughn McClure  


Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones didn’t share any details about his March 6 foot surgery, but Jones did say he expects to be ready for training camp, as the team initially announced.

Jones had a bunion removed on his left foot after the injury nagged him during the season. He wore a walking boot Tuesday while unveiling the name of his new business development -- "Ariston," which is Greek for "the best" -- a complex that will include a residential area, entertainment district, office space and hotels.

"I feel great," Jones told ESPN. "Everything is on schedule, and we’ll be ready to go."

After the surgery, the team announced Jones would be sidelined for four to five months, which would take him right up to the start of training camp in late July. Jones was asked why such a long timetable followed what was referred to as a "minor" procedure.

"I don’t know," Jones said. "They just said that. I really don’t know."

Jones missed two games late last season as a result of the injury but played in all three postseason contests, including the Super Bowl. He finished last season with 83 receptions for 1,409 yards with six touchdowns. In three playoff games, Jones had 19 catches for 334 yards and three touchdowns.

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