The NFL is always adapting to changing schemes and improving skill sets. Having a good, reliable slot corner is crucial against the games’ best. Somehow Brian Poole, one of the best nickel cornerbacks in the entire league remains unsigned.
Here are the three teams that make the most sense for Poole this late in the free agency process.
Philadelphia Eagles fly in Brian Poole to patch up secondary
At this point, not having a new contract has to be a major disappointment for Brian Poole. After proving himself as one of the best slot cornerbacks in the NFL over the past few seasons, Poole would be a valuable addition for several teams. One of those clubs includes the Philadelphia Eagles, who have continued revamping their secondary.
Outside, they have Darius Slay, but his play has slipped in recent seasons, accruing a 62.9 PFF grade in 2020. Opposite of Slay, the Eagles have Avonte Maddox who has yet to look like a starting NFL corner. Just after the 2021 draft, Philly acquired Josiah Scott to compete for the nickel back role, but he’s only played 80 NFL snaps.
Basically, the Eagles are entering the season with an unproven secondary and plenty of question marks. Five-year NFL veteran Brian Poole has 38 starts at cornerback. From the start of his career as an undrafted free agent, Poole has manned the slot.
With the Jets, Poole was the 13th most valuable cornerback in the NFL from 2019-2020 according to PFF. When lined up in the slot, Poole’s 76.9 grade ranks sixth among players with 500 or more snaps since 2019. The Eagles may only have just over $3 million in cap space, but Poole isn’t likely to break the bank this late in the game.
Atlanta Falcons reel in Brian Poole (again)
Brian Poole signed with the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free agent out of Florida in 2016. In that time, Poole played the nickel role, even starting in the Super Bowl as a rookie. After three seasons in Atlanta, Poole signed with the Jets.
Since then, the Falcons have spent a first and second-round pick on cornerbacks A.J. Terrell and Isaiah Oliver. Poole has outplayed them both. Just last year, Poole earned a 77.1 PFF grade. Oliver and Terrell have yet to grade better than even 61.
Oliver and Terrell are young enough where they shouldn’t be cast aside any time soon, but Poole can come in and help make their jobs easier, perhaps showing them the ropes along the way. Poole can bring consistency to the Falcons cornerback position, something that’s been lacking in recent seasons.
After being hired, defensive coordinator Dean Pees mentioned that he appreciates the young Falcons’ D being able to run and hit. Poole would add more physicality and toughness to this young secondary.
Capable of blitzing, playing multiple coverages including covering the slot, Poole would be a great chess piece for the Falcons’ new-look defense.
New York Jets re-sign Brian Poole to hold down nickel role
This would be another reunion. After mostly striking out attempting to improve the New York Jets’ secondary this offseason, Brian Poole would be a great redemption signing to usher in the Robert Saleh era.
Last season with the Jets, Poole ranked 10th in coverage among all cornerbacks. Yet their defense was still atrocious. However, Poole can’t be asked to do it all as one member out of 11.
Switching from a 3-4 to the 4-3 will be an entirely new defense for Poole in New York, but the changes have more direct impact on the front seven than the back end. Plus, with how thin Gang Green’s cornerback group appears to be, earning early playing time shouldn’t be an issue.
Since 2019, Poole has allowed the fewest coverage yards per snap (0.75) from the slot per PFF. Playing inside, Poole has let up just one touchdown with New York. While he’s missed nine games in the past two years, part of that has to do with how physical he plays at the point of attack. Whomever the Jets are planning to roll out in the nickel, likely can’t top Poole’s impressive resume.
As far as cap space goes, the Jets still have over $25 million available to spend. It’s strange that Poole has yet to sign a contract for 2021. Maybe some of it has to do with injuries suffered during the 2020 season, maybe he wants to get back to the postseason.
Whatever the reason, look for Brian Poole to sign a new contract soon. Whichever team signs Poole will be getting a tough, physical cornerback capable of covering slot receivers on game day. If there’s one thing teams have learned, it’s that you can never have enough corners.