The New England Patriots currently have 88 players on their active roster. However, only 53 of them will be able to survive the cutdowns on September 1 and ultimately make the team. Over the course of the offseason, we take a look at the players fighting for those spots to find out who has the best chances of helping the Patriots recapture the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Today, the series continues with one of New England’s tight ends.
Name: Dwayne Allen
Position: Tight end
Jersey number: 83
Opening day age: 28
Size: 6’3, 265 lbs.
2017 review: When it became clear that the Patriots would not re-sign Martellus Bennett, they set their sights on somebody else to serve as the number two tight end behind Rob Gronkowski: Dwayne Allen, who spent the first five years of his NFL career with the Indianapolis Colts but was no lock to return for another season. New England was therefore able to bring him and a sixth-round draft selection on board for a fourth-round pick.
The investment did not pay immediate dividends in 2017. Allen, hitting the team’s books with a salary cap hit of $4.94 million, played only a marginal role for the team. A lot of this had to do with Gronkowski appearing in all but two games, yes, but the trade acquisition still failed to establish itself as even a rotational piece of the passing game: playing a total of 539 offensive snaps (of 1,360; 39.6%), Allen caught only 10 passes for 86 yards and one touchdown.
As disappointing as Allen’s statistics as a receiver were, he did look good when used as a blocker – and used as a blocker he was a lot: the former fifth-round draft pick stayed home to either pass protect or run block on two-thirds of his offensive snaps. Not only did he therefore play a big role in New England’s ground game, he also was rather solid when it comes to protecting Tom Brady: Allen gave up only one hit and two hurries.
All in all, however, he failed to live up to the expectations that come along with being a trade acquisition with a considerable price tag that attached to it.
2018 preview: Allen entered 2018 as a potential salary cap casualty that would have saved the Patriots $5.0 million, but so far is still part of the equation. And if training camp and the early preseason are an indication, him remaining on New England’s roster may not change any time soon: while Allen is the seventh most expensive player on the team, he still projects to be one of the Patriots’ top three tight ends.
That being said, the 28-year old still needs to earn his role on the team by keeping some distance between himself and his competitors Will Tye and Ryan Izzo. Because if one of the two is able to provide better value than Allen on offense and in the kicking game, the Patriots will likely not hesitate to cut their losses and move forward without the veteran alongside Rob Gronkowski and second-year man Jacob Hollister.
Ultimately, though, the odds still appear to be in Allen’s favor as neither Tye nor Izzo stood out over the course of the summer. If the former Colt indeed makes the team, his role will likely look similar to the one he held last year: primarily as a blocking tight that sees some targets every now and then.