According to ESPN’s Josina Anderson, prized Kansas City free agent nose tackle Dontari Poe‘s Sunday visit with the Colts ‘went well’, but he’s still poised to visit other teams–including the divisional rival, Jacksonville Jaguars:
Obviously, Colts fans were hoping that new general manager Chris Ballard could ‘close’ the deal with his former player–having previously served as the Kansas City Chiefs Director of Player Personnel from 2013-15 prior to joining the Colts.
However, there’s been speculation that free agent suitors are hoping Poe will consider a 1-year ‘prove it’ deal to rebuild his value following a fairly underwhelming 2016 season and lingering concerns over a back injury.
Whether the Colts insisted on such a deal is unclear, but it appears as though Poe at this time will at least visit other teams and explore his options before making a final decision as a highly sought after free agent.
With the Baltimore Ravens Brandon Williams safely off the market, Poe is firmly entrenched as free agency’s best remaining nose tackle.
Originally a 2012 first round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs, the 6’3″, 346 pound Poe has occasionally dominated as nose tackle, flashing his immense size, surprising quickness, and agility at the position–en route to becoming 1x 2nd-Team All-Pro and 2x Pro Bowler in the process.
That being said, he doesn’t always play up to his immense size and physical potential on a consistent basis, and as noted, there are legitimate concerns over a lingering back injury–coming off an underwhelming season:
"“Per Pro Football Focus (subscription), Poe was ranked as only the 59th best ‘interior defender’ with just a +55.8 grade overall–including a meager +46.7 run stopping grade.“However, he’s just one year removed from earning a Top 12 run defense grade among all defensive tackles–meaning there’s some definite potential for run dominance here.”"
Of course, the Colts could clearly use an upgrade at nose tackle, where incumbent David Parry was recently arrested and has been nothing more than ‘serviceable’ starting at the position–at best.
In fact, since 2012, the Colts simply haven’t had a ‘difference-making’ nose tackle–having shuffled through the likes of Antonio Johnson, Aubrayo Franklin, Josh Chapman, and most recently, Parry at the position among others.
Historically, nearly every great 3-4 defense has had a dominant nose tackle whether it be the New England Patriots Vince Wilfork (or Ted Washington), the Pittsburgh Steelers Casey Hampton, the San Diego Chargers Jamal Williams, etc.
By default, having a dominant nose tackle who can consistently command a double team will free up a team’s inside linebackers in a 3-4 defensive scheme from ‘trash’ coming from the first level and simply allow them to make tackles and plays.
Nevertheless, having Poe leave Indianapolis without a contract doesn’t appear to be ideal for their chances of signing him. If a team wants a free agent bad enough, it’s rare that the franchise actually lets them leave without inking a contract.
Instead, the Colts will have to ‘wait-and-see’ whether Poe can actually get a better deal from another team or if they’re still in the hunt for the highly coveted free agent nose tackle.
Right now though, they’re on the outside, looking in–having had the ball firmly in their court.
Given his prior familiarity with Poe, perhaps Ballard has a better sense than almost anyone of his actual value in terms of dollars and years. As of now though, there was no ‘meeting of the minds’ and Poe is exploring his options elsewhere.