The New York Jets made yet another addition in free agency on Thursday signing former Atlanta Falcons defender Brian Poole to be the team’s expected new slot cornerback.
Skrine had been the Jets starting nickel cornerback for the past four years but recently agreed to a contract with the Chicago Bears effectively ending his tenure with the team, not that the Jets had any interest of bringing him back regardless. In his place, the Jets signed former Atlanta Falcons cornerback Brian Poole to assume the new starting role.
Poole originally entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2016 and he wasted little time cracking the starting lineup starting nine games in his rookie season while playing in all 16. The Florida product proved to be quite the find for Atlanta as he took over as the team’s starting nickel cornerback during his rookie campaign, a role he’s held for the past three seasons.
A former college teammate of safety Marcus Maye, Poole did see his play slip in recent years and he hasn’t been the same since his rookie season. This is why the Falcons made the decision not to tender the restricted free agent Poole, a move that was considered slightly surprising at the time.
The Jets will be hoping he could return to his 2016 form and they’ve given him a short, prove-it deal to allow him the opportunity to make his case.
The Jets signed Poole to a one-year, $3.5 million contract.
Cornerback Brian Poole agreed to a 1-year deal with the Jets for $3.5 million, per source. Poole was not tendered by the Falcons – rare for a player not tender to actually get more than the tender.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 15, 2019
Confirmed that the Jets have agreed to terms on a 1-year, $3.5M deal with former Falcons CB Brian Poole (as @AdamSchefter said).
Poole will replace Buster Skrine as the nickel corner.
— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) March 15, 2019
NFL free agency: Jets sign Brian Poole | What it means for rebuilding secondary https://t.co/IllgQazhvT
— Darryl Slater (@DarrylSlater) March 15, 2019
It will be nice to see a new face occupying the slot cornerback role as Skrine’s play has slipped significantly in recent years and he’s regularly been one of the most frustrating players on the team.
However, fans should be expecting more of a moderate adjustment than a complete makeover.
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Poole, in many ways, projects as a younger version of Skrine. Many of Skrine’s strengths and weaknesses also carry over into Poole’s game.
The former Atlanta Falcon is an excellent blitzer and is great in run support. However, he could struggle at times with penalties and has a tendency to become over-aggressive in coverage. Oftentimes Poole will find himself undercutting a route or getting handsy with opposing receivers resulting in a penalty.
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Still, Poole is just 26-years-old which is four years younger than what Skrine will be at the start of the 2019 season. His 2016 tape shows promise, but his recent level of play leaves much to be desired.
While the contract is insignificant and not a concern, it speaks volumes that the Jets were able to sign him for such a small contract. That combined with the fact that Atlanta outright chose not to tender him doesn’t necessarily give a glowing recommendation for the 5-foot-10 defensive back.
Ultimately, it feels as though the Jets went with the cheaper option — as opposed to Chicago’s Bryce Callahan — which given that they still have a ton of cap space remaining, doesn’t make too much sense.
Hopefully, Poole could return to his rookie form and cut back on some of the foolish errors and penalties. But at the time of writing, it just doesn’t feel like the best signing.