We have entered the deepest depths of the NFL offseason. Free agency and the draft are behind us, while minicamp and training camp won't start until early June and late July, respectively. However, while the football world seemingly turns slower these days it does not stop.
After all, until the late-August's roster cuts, players need to have secured their spots on the team. Over the course of the next few months, we will take a look at the men fighting for them on the 2017 New England Patriots. 53 of currently 89 players will be asked to help the team defend its Super Bowl title.
Today, we’ll continue the series with the Patriots’ punter.
Name: Ryan Allen
Jersey number: 6
Opening day age: 27
Size: 6'2, 220 lbs.
2016 review: Coming off his best season as a pro, Ryan Allen was once again a solid punter for the Patriots in 2016. While Allen, who attempted the 18th most punts in the league last year (72), ranks only 22nd in punting average (44.7 yards/kick), his net yardage (42.8) places him at number eight in the NFL.
Compared to last year, his net average improved almost 3 yards. Not only does this reflect a very solid special teams unit, it also is a testament to a punter that has further continued to improve his kicks’ hang time. The difference between his gross and net averages (1.9 yards), by the way, is the third-best number in the NFL.
While Allen ranks in the bottom-half of the league in touchbacks (6.95%; 18th) and placement inside the 20-yard line (3.19%; 24th), he is one of the game’s best punters in setting up returns: Only one team has a lower return average than the Patriots’ 5.0 yards per punt return.
Above all that, Allen has also proven to be a reliable holder in the kicking game. While kicker Stephen Gostkowski had a down year by his lofty standards, the holder did his job on a regular basis.
2017 preview: Like the other two members of New England’s kicking operation – Gostkowski and long snapper Joe Cardona – Allen is a lock to make the 53-man roster. After all, he is one of the best situational punters in the league and has shown steady improvement over the course of his four-year career.
Entering the second season of a three-year contract extension signed in the summer of 2015, Allen is due to hit the team’s salary cap with $1.9 million. Therefore, he has the 22nd highest cap number on the team as well as the 14th highest for a punter in the league. Judging by his 2016 season, Ryan Allen is absolutely worth it.