With only a few days to go until their entire roster will report to training camp, the New England Patriots currently have 78 players under contract. However, only 53 of them will be able to survive roster cutdowns on September 5 and ultimately make the active team. Over the course of spring and summer — just like we did the last three years as well — we will take a look at the players fighting for those spots to find out who has the best chances of helping the Patriots keep their dynasty alive in Year One after Tom Brady.
Today, the series continues with a member of New England’s defensive tackle group.
Name: Beau Allen
Position: Defensive tackle
Jersey number: 94
Opening day age: 28
Size: 6-foot-3, 330 pounds
Contract status: Under contract through 2021 (2022 UFA)
What is his experience? Coming off a four-year career at the University of Wisconsin, Allen was selected in the seventh round of the NFL’s 2014 draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. Despite his draft status, he was able to not just make the team’s 53-man roster as a rookie but also to carve out a regular role within the team’s defensive tackle rotation — one he held throughout his four years with the club: all in all, Allen appeared in 63 regular season games and three playoff contests for the Eagles and won a Super Bowl in 2017.
After what was his best season up until that point, he decided to leave Philadelphia and instead joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a three-year, $15 million free agency contract. While his uniform looked different, his usage did not see any substantially change: Allen continued to be employed primarily on a rotational basis as his team’s third defensive tackle. As such, he added 27 of a possible 32 games to his career résumé over the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Earlier this year, he eventually hit free agency again and joined the Patriots.
What did his 2019 season look like? Allen had an encouraging first season with the Buccaneers, but was unable to build on it the following year. This was in part due to a change atop the team’s coaching staff that saw Todd Bowles replace Mark Duffner as the defense’s coordinator. Bowles implemented a 3-4-based scheme and limited Allen’s role within it: while he had been on the field for 36.9% of Tampa Bay’s defensive snaps in 2018 (386 of 1,047), that number decreased to 15.8% the following season (179 of 1,130).
When all was said and done, Allen had appeared in 13 of the Buccaneers’ 16 games in 2019 — effectively ending his season in mid-December after injuring his ankle in practice. Before the injury, the veteran defender has had an up-and-down season. While he was generally stout as a big-bodied run stuffer and registered seven tackles in the ground game, he also was very much a non-factor versus the pass: Allen finished the season with just 4.5 quarterback disruptions in the form of a half-sack, one hit and three hurries.
That all being said, Allen did make some strides in the kicking game. After seeing no action on special teams the previous year, he was on the field for 137 of a possible 486 snaps (28.2%) in 2019. He did not show up on the stat sheet, but regularly proved his value to the club by appearing on both the Buccaneers’ field goal and extra point kicking and blocking units.
What is his projected role? Allen is expected to fill the role previously held by ex-Patriot Danny Shelton: he will likely serve as a big-bodied two-gapper from the interior positions — aligning anywhere from the nose to the 3-technique spot — whose main responsibilities lie in the running game. While this means that he will likely not post any impressive statistics, his role and importance to the Patriots’ defensive operation alongside Lawrence Guy and Adam Butler cannot be underestimated.
What is his special teams value? As noted above, Allen did see increased playing time in the game’s third phase during his 2019 season — a continuation of the role he held with the Eagles between 2014 and 2017 as well. Heading into his first year in New England, the 28-year-old is therefore expected to be employed in a similar fashion: he will see regular action on both field goal and extra point teams as a protector and a blocker.
Does he have positional versatility? The Patriots do not ask their defensive tackles to aggressively rush up the field against the pass but rather to hold their position and limit space for the quarterback to climb into, with edge or second-level defenders making plays. Such a usage should bode well for Allen, who has shown only marginal upside as a pass rusher so far in his career and like Shelton before him is somewhat limited from a versatility perspective — at least on defense: Allen has seven career snaps as a fullback on his résumé.
What is his salary cap situation? Earlier this offseason, Allen joined the Patriots on a two-year, $7 million pact. As part of this deal, he is on the team’s books with a salary cap number of $2.88 million this year that includes a $1.3 million salary — including $800,000 as a full guarantee — as well as his $850,000 signing bonus proration and game-day roster bonuses worth a total of $731,250. If New England opted to part ways with Allen on cutdown day, he would carry a dead money number of $1.9 million built out of the guarantees embedded into his contract.
What is his roster outlook? While Allen may not be a surefire lock to make the Patriots’ roster, his contractual structure makes him a very safe bet. Accordingly, he should be expected to be on the team as its third defensive tackle alongside the aforementioned Lawrence Guy and Adam Butler. Filling the role previously held by Danny Shelton, his playing time will likely rebound and he might be on the field for around 40 to 50 percent of New England’s defensive snaps this year.