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Longtime Falcons safety Ricardo Allen retires

The 30-year-old hangs it up after a strong career.

Seattle Seahawks v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Ricardo Allen deserved to go out with a Super Bowl win. He didn’t get one, but he got to take part in his second career Super Bowl, and now at age 30 he’s calling it a career.

Allen announced his retirement on Sunday after eight years in the NFL, and predictably his farewell message was a classy one.

Allen was a fifth round pick for the Falcons under Mike Smith in 2014, entering the NFL as a cornerback out of Purdue. While he competed for a role in training camp, he was a surprise cut and wound up on the practice squad, though he made it to the active roster late in the year without getting onto the field his rookie season. He did make an impression during Hard Knocks, but I was surprised he was cut and thought that was an awfully disappointing outcome for fifth round pick.

Given that start to his career—drafted, cut, relegated to the practice squad—you might not have expected Allen to make a splash from there. But here, Allen surprised and showed it was circumstance and not his ability that saw him short on opportunities his rookie season, as he used 2015 to burnish the talent and drive that would make him an invaluable starter for Atlanta in the coming years. He converted to safety under Dan Quinn and company, seized the starting free safety job, and held it except for injury in each of the next six seasons. His sure tackling, coverage downfield and reputation as a terrific locker room presence earned him tremendous respect from Quinn and company, and he was a four-time team captain and 2019 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee.

Along the way, the heady Allen gained a justified reputation as a defensive leader and the last line of defense for the Falcons, and was a reliable presence in the defensive backfield when there was a lot of shaky play around him. After Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith arrived in town he became a cap casualty, he wrapped up his career with that Super Bowl run in Cincinnati, coming awfully close to a ring. Now it sounds like Allen will embrace the chance to spend time with his family and perhaps get into coaching.

I don’t know what opportunities are waiting for Ricardo Allen, but I have little doubt he’ll succeed at them, and I hope he enjoys retirement.