Atlanta Falcons free safety Ricardo Allen’s journey since he was drafted in 2014 is remarkable. He was cut as a rookie, landed on the Falcons practice squad, and now he’s one of top safeties in the league. (According to Pro Football Focus, Allen ranked 33rd among safeties in 2017. His 81.3 grade made him “above average,” according to their metrics.) No matter what Allen shows us on the field, there’s always this unexplained impulse to undervalue him. And yet the fan base collectively sighed in relief when the Falcons hit him with a second round tender last month.
Fast forward to today: the beginning of the Falcons off-season program. According to ESPN’s Vaughn McClure, Allen is present, but he hasn’t signed his second round tender.
Falcons FS Ricardo Allen is at the facility for the start of the offseason program today but hasn’t signed his restricted free agent tender ($2.914 million). Allen signed an injury waiver instead to proceed with workouts and be with his teammates.
Wait, what? That’s ... incredible. Just think about this for a moment. Allen doesn’t have a long-term deal. Heck, he doesn’t even have a multi-year deal. He knows the team is interested in a long-term deal, but let’s be honest, he also must know they have bigger priorities. (I’m looking at you, Matt Ryan, Grady Jarrett, Jake Matthews, etc.) And notwithstanding all that, he’s still making himself available for the off-season program.
In many ways Allen is the antithesis of what we’ve come to expect from NFL players. Cut him and relegate him to the practice squad? Not fazed. Draft Damontae Kazee to eventually replace him? Whatever. Make him an exclusive rights free agent in 2017 and then hit him with a second round tender in 2018? No big deal. He still shows up, and he’s still there for his teammates.
None of this is surprising if you’re familiar with Allen’s reputation in the locker room. He’s always been a team-first guy. Head coach Dan Quinn gave him playing time, and he’s never looked back. So take a minute, stop reading the sensationalized sports story du jour, and appreciate Allen in all his selfless glory. Thanks, Ricardo. We appreciate you.