Indianapolis Colts tight end Dwayne Allen signed a four-year, $29 million extension with the team back in March. As injuries and minor inconsistencies have derailed his career at times, Allen is now ready to let his game do the talking in 2016.
Indianapolis Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson had a difficult decision at his hands back in March, just shortly before the start of the 2016 NFL Free Agency period.
With an Andrew Luck contract extension looming, Grigson had to choose between re-signing Coby Fleener or Dwayne Allen — two tight ends whom would command such big bucks that it would be nearly impossible to keep both on the roster, while signing Luck to a long-term deal.
Sure enough, Fleener signed a five-year, $36 million contract with the New Orleans Saints at the start of free agency — shortly after the Colts decided that Allen was their go-to option at tight end for the long haul.
Many criticized the re-signing at first. One of the biggest questions was why give a player who has only appeared in all 16 games just once in his four-year career such a large extension?
Comparing both Allen and Fleener, Allen always appeared to be the all-around better tight end between the two. On too many occasions would Fleener drop a wide-open pass, or never come up with the ’50-50′ balls through the air. Allen was also the better blocker between the two — something that the Colts desperately need and value.
The Colts are gambling on Allen to have a similar year to that of 2014 — a year in which he hauled in eight touchdowns and had perhaps his best season since the Colts drafted him in the 3rd round of the 2012 draft.
Allen reflected on his recent extension with the Colts, per Mike Wells of ESPN.com.
"“I was rewarded, and I was rewarded because of the performance and the way I was,” Allen said. “Of course I take a little more ownership, but that doesn’t mean that I change the way that I go to work and the way that I lead.”"
Allen has missed a total of 21 games over the course of three seasons. His health is vital to the Colts in 2016 due to the fact that the team doesn’t have much depth behind him — with Jack Doyle and an unexperienced Erik Swoope as the Colts’ other tight ends on the depth chart.
According to head coach Chuck Pagano however, Allen appears to be in the best shape he has been in yet.
“If you do the right thing and you’re a pro and you train mentally and physically and you put the time in and you then continue to do that,” Pagano said. “Vacation starts, those kind of things, then this is how you’re going to show up at camp. He understands what you have to do from a preparation standpoint, so he got himself ready to go and he looks really good right now.”
In 2015, Allen totaled just 16 receptions for 109 yards and one touchdown through 13 games — numbers that must increase drastically in 2016 if he wishes to live up to his contract value.
With a healthy Andrew Luck at the helm this coming season, Allen should have a very productive season under offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski’s offense.
But for now, he’s doing less talking and letting his game speak for itself come 2016.
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