The Atlanta Falcons have a difficult decision looming on the horizon when it comes to the contract of starting free safety Ricardo Allen.
He’s on a second-round tender for 2018, which locks him in for the season, but he will be a free agent once 2019 rolls around. What does Allen think of this upcoming development? See for yourself below via Fox 5’s Justin Felder.
#Falcons safety Ricardo Allen on prospect of long-term contract before training camp: "If I could write the contract, I would've wrote that contract a long time ago ... if this is my last year, I'm going to do it to the best I can do." pic.twitter.com/Rzieg1wyuj— Justin Felder (@Justin_FOX5) June 13, 2018
The Falcons are in a wonderful spot with a surplus of strong drafted talent, but that does give them a big line of mouths to feed when it comes to getting guys paid.
The team, more than likely, is about to give Julio Jones a raise, and has to get deals done for guys like Grady Jarrett and Jake Matthews in the year to come. Tevin Coleman will also be a looming free agent in 2019, as will Andy Levitre and Justin Hardy. Also, say hey to Deion Jones, Keanu Neal, De’Vondre Campbell, Takk McKinley and Austin Hooper in the years to come. It’s a great problem to have (imagine if the Falcons didn’t have any players worth extending), but it might lead to some difficult decisions for who stays and who goes.
Allen is a crucial member of the defense, providing even more mentally to the unit than he does physically, and trust us, the physically part is pretty darn good for the position. He’s got big advocates in the building in Marquand Manuel and Dan Quinn, and by all accounts, it sounds like Allen wants to stay in Atlanta.
One thing that could make things interesting is if the Falcons’ defense has a huge 2018, and Manuel starts to get head coaching interviews. If he were to land a gig, you could see Allen want to both get what’s rightfully his in lieu of a contract and join Manuel wherever he went if that team needed a starting free safety. Allen is a starter, and will be a starter whether it’s in Atlanta or somewhere else in 2019. It just depends if it’s the Falcons who decide to pay him.
Safety is a funky position in the league right now in terms of compensation, though no one will argue with you that the position is vital to a defense. Losing Allen would be a loss that the team would have to adjust for, but it’d certainly be their call to let him go elsewhere, it sounds like. Allen seems quite happy with where he is, and wants to stay a Falcon.
His contract will be an underrated storyline going into 2018, as will the development of his possible successor, Damontae Kazee. Free safety is a pretty important position in the team’s defensive scheme, and they’ll have to play this situation wisely. Letting Allen go without a sound plan for replacing him could be a major setback for a rising unit.
But, for now, Rico’s a Falcon, and we’ve been on his train ever since that game-sealing interception in his first start against the Eagles. He’s got a great story, and has been a cornerstone of the team in the Quinn era. He deserved to get paid. We’ll see if it’s Atlanta that gets that done.