In comments made to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, a brutally honest Jones revealed that Poe was cut due to poor conditioning and subsequently lackluster on-field play.
“When you’re 30 pounds overweight and you’re not doing anything about what’s keeping you from performing well on the field, there is no reason to get into the other stuff,” Jones told the NFL insider on Wednesday evening.
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Mortensen pressed on the “other stuff” — namely Poe’s decision to kneel during the National Anthem, the only Cowboys player this season to defy Jones’ in-house policy concerning the Star-Spangled Banner. The front-office czar indicated his axing had less to do with politics and more to do with performance.
“I understand your question, and I’m deliberately not going to answer it,” Jones said. “We have a platform here, but the platform on the football field has a high standard, and [Poe] was not up to the standard. He needed to correct that, and he did not. I’m going to leave it at that.”
Poe, who inked a two-year, $9 million free-agent deal with $3.5 million guaranteed, was supposed to be the anchor of Dallas’ front-seven, helping replace offseason departure Maliek Collins. The two-time Pro Bowler instead looked like a shell of his former self, logging just seven tackles across 266 snaps, often blown off the ball.
Unbeknownst to many, the 6-foot-3, 340-pounder had weekly weight incentives built into his contract, up to $500,000 in total. Mortensen reports “it’s not known how much he collected, if any.”
Regardless, Poe’s a primary culprit for the Cowboys’ league-worst run defense, which surrenders 178.3 yards per game, a sieve to literally any opposing rusher. According to ESPN analytics expert Seth Walder, the 30-year-old ranked last “in both pass rush win rate and run stop win rate” among all qualifying NFL DTs.
Poe was among three sacrificial lambs (and counting?) as 2-5 Dallas continued a roster purge that began Tuesday when Pro Bowl pass-rusher Everson Griffen was traded to the Detroit Lions for a conditional 2021 sixth-round draft pick. The team also chopped veteran defensive back Daryl Worley, a fellow offseason arrival who similarly disappointed.
“You make mistakes. You move on,” Jones said. “We’re moving on, but by no means are we giving up.”
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Jerry Updates Dalton’s Status
Mortensen shifted the topic from Poe to starting quarterback Andy Dalton, who’s in the league’s concussion protocol following an illegal helmet-to-helmet hit amid last Sunday’s loss to Washington.
“Andy is in the [concussion] protocol, and the doctor will make that decision,” Jones said regarding Dalton’s Week 8 outlook.
Dalton did not practice Wednesday and, barring a quick turnaround, appears destined to miss Sunday night’s divisional showdown at Philadelphia. Seventh-round rookie Ben DiNucci is slated to start in the Red Rifle’s stead, with Garrett Gilbert likely functioning as the No. 2 QB.
The Cowboys also are expected to sign former longtime Dak Prescott backup Cooper Rush to the practice squad to serve as additional insurance, NFL Network reported Wednesday.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL