A new name has emerged in a loaded field of free agent defensive backs who could be of interest to the Chicago Bears this offseason.
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio has been informed by a league source that the Atlanta Falcons have told slot cornerback Brian Poole he will not be tendered a contract by the team this offseason. That’s an important update, given that Poole could have received a restricted free agency tender by Atlanta, one that would have given him the ability to negotiate a contract with another team while giving Atlanta the right to match a signed offer sheet. Instead, he’ll enter the free agent market at age 26 and can be signed by any team without reservation.
The 2018 season was a career-best for Poole, who set single-season highs in tackles (74), sacks (3), interceptions (3), and quarterback hits (5). That type of production isn’t too far off from what Callahan produced (and comes without the apparent injury risk). Depending on your risk-reward calculus, that picture makes Poole a fairly intriguing free agent target compared to the other options.
Indeed, Poole has been a versatile nickel defender since latching on with the Falcons as an undrafted free agent in 2016. In addition to his experience at multiple positions, Poole has proven to be durable, having missed just one game in three years. Adding a younger defender who doesn’t have a lengthy injury history could potentially improve the Bears’ secondary.
Had the Falcons tendered a restricted free agent tender to Poole, it would have likely cost them around $2 million (last year’s low-round tender paid $1.907 million). And while Poole figures to get more than that on the open market, he probably isn’t in line to get the same types of offers Bears free agent Bryce Callahan will receive while sitting at the top of the market of slot cornerbacks.
So what does this mean for the Bears? Well, in short: Poole represents a potential value buy for Chicago. And considering the team’s potential needs in the secondary and their cap-strapped budget, the Bears make sense as a team that would check in on him this offseason.