The New England Patriots ended the 2018 season in the best possible way, by defeating the Los Angeles Rams to win Super Bowl 53. In order to stay on top of the NFL mountain, though, the organization will have to quickly turn the page to get itself into a position to create the best possible team for the 2019 season. And a big part of building such a team is mastering the upcoming free agency.
If judged by the list of free agents to be, New England’s front office will be busy over the next few weeks before the new league year officially is kicked off on March 13. Also over the next few weeks, we will take a look at those free agents-to-be to find out who may or may not get re-signed by the Patriots; and who should be a part of the 2019 squad. Today, we’ll start the series with punter Ryan Allen.
#6 P Ryan Allen
2019 opening day age: 29
2018 playing time: 19 games (16 regular season + 3 playoffs); 32.5% special teams snaps
2018 statistics: 75 punts; 44.6 yards per punt
2018 cap number: $2.00 million
Ryan Allen’s 2018 season started with him in an open competition against undrafted rookie Corey Bojorquez. But while the challenger displayed a big leg during spring practices and training camp, the incumbent held onto the job and saw all possible snaps during the preseason — pretty much deciding the battle for the punter spot in his favor: Bojorquez was released, and Allen back for a sixth season as New England’s punter.
The regular season saw the veteran regularly display the strengths that made him earn the punter job in the first place and hold onto it: after a slow opening to the season, Allen started to display solid hang time combined with good ball placement — something that became even more evident in the playoffs when he consistently helped New England win the field position battle. Allen was at his best in the Super Bowl.
Why should he be re-signed? Allen had his ups-and-downs but played outstanding when the team needed him to. Ultimately, this in combination with his experience and reliability should make the team bring him back on a deal similarly structured to the one he signed in 2015 — when he also came off a solid Super Bowl-winning performance. Entering the offseason without a punter under contract would be risky.
Why should he be let go? The Patriots brought in competition during last year’s offseason as they apparently were ready to upgrade at the punter position. Allen ultimately prevailed and played a solid overall season, but the team might still opt to improve the position yet again instead of coming to an agreement with however Allen’s contractual demands might look like.
Projection: Allen re-signs with the Patriots on another three-year deal, with the maximum money tied to it coming in between $6.0 and $7.0 million.