Ricardo Allen has done everything that has been asked of him since he joined the Falcons. He went to the practice squad his rookie season, transitioned from cornerback to safety full-time in his second year, and has become a key starter for the Falcons. This entire time, he’s played on one of the smallest deals on the team, and this is his final year before he’s owed a contract extension.
Considering all that, it’s no surprise that Allen has yet to sign his RFA tender, in the hopes that he’ll receive a new contract now. He said earlier this week in remarks to reporters that he’s still hopeful that a multi-year pact is coming, which explains his reluctance to remove any leverage he has by signing his tender.
And the thing is, this is yet another case where Allen’s not wrong to want that extension. If you go purely by how underpaid he’s been for the value he has brought over the last few seasons, nobody on the list of upcoming new contracts deserves a fresh deal more than he does.
Allen’s just 26 years old—he turns 27 in December—and he’s played at least 15 regular season games in all three of his seasons as a starter. Marquand Manuel and Dan Quinn have repeatedly singled him out for praise because of the way he acts as a reliable safety net at the back end of the defense, capable of preventing big plays. You could wish for more turnovers from Allen, sure, but he fills the role he’s asked to play very well, and he’s done so for peanuts for three years now. He also has shown up to OTAs despite not signing his tender, a sign he doesn’t intend to make any huge waves.
The issue is that the Falcons are dealing with extensions for Jake Matthews, Grady Jarrett, and possibly Julio Jones in the near future, and unlike with Julio and Matthews in particular, there’s no way the Falcons will save money on their tight 2018 cap by extending Allen. That may mean he has to wait until those deals are done, unless he and the Falcons can find some quick common ground. They have only a tiny bit of wiggle room under the cap, but that may change if they lock up Matthews and open up a couple million more in 2018.
My hope is that the Falcons will find a way to get this done—Allen’s talents are always going to be useful for this defense—and that this doesn’t drag deep into the offseason. The Falcons should probably view this exact moment as an ideal time to talk about a contract with Allen, given that the safety market in free agency is unusually robust and teams have not moved to sign even some of the top talents available. For Allen, it’s the right time to ask, considering he’s about to head into the last year of his deal with no clear job security or guaranteed money beyond 2018.
I suspect the only reason it wouldn’t get done is if the Falcons are indeed planning to replace Ricardo Allen with Damontae Kazee or a future draft pick in 2019, in which case the team’s silence on the matter may grow very long, indeed. But I’d reiterate my support for paying Allen the money he has more than earned in the last few seasons.