Just under a year ago Chris Ballard entered his first free agent signing period as an NFL general manager. One of his biggest goals during the 2017 free agent period was overhauling a horrible defense that was full of aging former stars who were well past their primes. No position group received more attention from Ballard than the defensive line.
One player who was brought in early, and who many thought would follow Chris Ballard from the Kansas City Chiefs, was defensive tackle Dontari Poe. He came to Indianapolis for an interview, left without a contract, and was reportedly offered a multi-year deal to join the Colts before he opted for a one-year deal to play for the Atlanta Falcons. He wasn’t the only defensive lineman to bet on himself in 2017 and finds himself likely on the losing end of the bet with less hype against the backdrop of the current free agent defensive line class as he had a year ago.
If Ballard still has interest in bolstering the defensive line rotation and feels he can get a player who has the potential to be truly special at a bargain price due to circumstance, it isn’t outside of the realm of possibility that he would do so. Jason La Canfora reported that the Colts would be likely suitors for Poe again — and in my opinion he could be even more dangerous if Ballard and Eberflus are intent on moving to a 4-3 base front.
Some executives I spoke too could see Dontari Poe staying in the NFC South, moving south from Atlanta to Tampa Bay. He put up strong film with the Falcons last year on a prove-it deal and the Skins, Broncos and Colts are among those who would have interest.
While much of the conversation about free agency is purely speculative at this point, Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff has already made it publicly clear that Poe will not remain in Atlanta moving forward.
He will be going to the market. I’m confident he’s going to sign a deal somewhere and be happy.
Will Poe look for something more long-term this time around? If so, he could form a ridiculously strong defensive interior in Indianapolis alongside Johnathan Hankins. Fan cries for more depth at the position would also be answered with reasonable cap hits for every player behind them.
It is clear the Colts have many other needs to address in the draft and free agency so bolstering the interior of the defensive line when it might be one of the more solidified groups on the team may not make a ton of sense. There is also the argument that winning the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball is the key to winning football and that Poe and Hankins together could cost slightly more than a starting NFL left tackle.
While all of the free agent chatter is purely speculative at this point, it isn’t difficult to find Poe and Hankins playing side-by-side intriguing. It would certainly make life a little easier on Jabaal Sheard and whatever other pass rush talent will be taking snaps on the ends for the Colts in 2018.