Dontari Poe is losing considerable weight with Falcons

OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 16: Dontari Poe
OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 16: Dontari Poe /
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Dontari Poe will play the 2017 at a considerably lighter weight than he ever did with the Kansas City Chiefs.

One interesting storyline to follow over the next year will be the performances of two defensive tackles: Dontari Poe, now of the Atlanta Falcons, and Bennie Logan, his replacement with the Kansas City Chiefs. Not only did both tackles sign contracts around the same amount of money at $8 million, but they will also both re-enter the free agent market next March (unless their respective teams decide to negotiate something long-term).

For Poe, the story is even more interesting because he was expected to command a long-term deal. Other defensive tackles like Jonathan Hankins of the Indianapolis Colts or Brandon Williams of the Baltimore Ravens were able to lock up some security, but for Poe, injury questions and a tremendous workload on the front half of his NFL career likely caused concern on the part of most NFL teams. Even Chiefs general manager John Dorsey failed to use the tag on him, letting him walk and test the market rather than pay him an outright $13 million-plus for a single season of play. Dorsey was right.

While in Kansas City, Poe played at just under 350 pounds and he did so with a tremendous athleticism and stamina. No one played more defensive snaps for the Chiefs than Poe over the last five years, an incredible total that shows how valuable he was during that span. But paying a contract is all about the performance going forward, not rewarding him for past statistics. That turned out to be bad news for Poe in the interim.

As Poe decided what to do for 2017, however, it’s clear he was thinking about his next big payday. He signed with a team that had already reached the Super Bowl, and if he can help them get back there, let alone with the Lombardi, then his stock will go sky-high. Just ask every free agent from any championship team how they feel about cashing in at the right time.

In addition, the Falcons have also said they’re going to let him rush the passer more than the Chiefs would allow him. If Poe is able to collapse the pocket and ring up a few sacks, that will open the eyes of some general managers to view Poe as a more well-rounded player than maybe keeping him in a run-stuffer category a la Logan. To that end, the Falcons are asking Poe to play at a lower weight in 2017 than he ever has before: a full 16 or more pounds less to be exact. They’ve even worked it into his contract with weight bonuses if he hits 340 pounds this week and then down to 330 once the season begins.

For Poe, the lower playing might take away a bit of the incredible mass he brings to the middle that allows him to really clog a lane, since it’s hard to move someone who is so strong who is also nearly 350 pounds. However, Poe’s lingering back issues could likely use some help and taking up to 20 pounds off of a player who is going to play the bulk of a team’s defensive snaps should help him stay upright and especially fresh for a playoff run.