Ex-Pats CB Poole signs two-year deal with Raiders
Financial details were not yet available, but league sources said that the contract is for considerably more than the NFL minimum.
Following his release, which saved the Patriots about $2 million in 2006 cap space, Poole met last Friday morning with Atlanta Falcons officials and then flew to Oakland to visit with Raiders coaches. He had been scheduled to travel to Denver on Monday before signing with the Raiders.
Poole, 34, started for New England in Super Bowl XXXVIII and had a standout campaign in 2003, but he appeared in just six games the last two years and he finished the 2004 and 2005 seasons on injured reserve. The 10-year veteran played in just one game in 2005, tried to come back from an ankle injury but then went on injured reserve in late October.
In '03, Poole was one of only four New England defensive players to start in all 16 regular-season games and the club's three playoff victories. He had 66 tackles and six interceptions that year and demonstrated the kind of "press" coverage skills that marked his early career. But the momentum Poole built that season, toward becoming a very good corner again, was then negated by two years of injuries.
If healthy, Poole should be able to contribute as a nickel cornerback, because he remains a very hard worker and is a defender with natural cover instincts. He also provides experience and leadership to a very young Oakland cornerback corps, one that includes three-year veteran Nnamdi Asomigha and second-year pros Fabian Washington and Stanford Routt.
One of the Carolina Panthers' three first-round choices in their inaugural 1995 draft, Poole was a top-flight corner from the outset of his career, an undersized but physical cover player. After four years in Carolina, the former Fort Valley (Ga.) State standout had stints in Indianapolis (1998-2000), Denver (2002) and New England (2003-05). He sat out the 2001 season for family reasons.
In 130 games, including 109 starts, Poole has 497 tackles, 17 interceptions and 133 passes defensed.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.
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