Indianapolis Colts free agent focus: Dwayne Allen

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Dwayne Allen

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (February 1, 2016) – The Indianapolis Colts already are in the process of putting a season of discontent behind them and ensuring it doesn’t repeat itself.

Foremost on the team’s “To do’’ list is determining which of its own players whose contracts expire in early-March merit re-signing. More than a dozen players, including the franchise’s all-time scoring leader (Adam Vinatieri) and six others who started at least six games, will become unrestricted free agents unless they sign a new contract before March 9.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll take a capsule look at a few of the more significant free-agents-to-be.

DWAYNE ALLEN, tight end

  • ’15 games/starts: 13/12
  • ’15 salary: $1.542 million
  • Case for re-signing: Allen is the total package wrapped in a 6-3, 265 frame. He is a viable threat in the passing game as evidenced by his 91 career receptions and 13 touchdowns, and is most dangerous in the red zone. He’s strong enough to overpower defensive backs and quick enough to outrun linebackers.Allen also is the team’s best blocker at his position. That’s a major plus for the team, but too often worked against Allen at a personal level. Whenever the offensive line was unable to get its act together in pass protection – and that was often – the coaching staff turned to Allen and frequently turned him into an extra lineman. That led to him being virtually ignored in the passing game. Allen had his least productive season (we’re tossing out 2013 when a hip injury limited him to one game and one catch) after being targeted just 29 times in 13 games. He finished with 16 receptions for 109 yards and one touchdown.

    Allen’s disappearing act in ’15 makes it easy to forget the type of impact he offers. He led all rookie tight ends in 2012 with 45 receptions and 521 yards, and his eight touchdowns last season are tied for fourth-most in club history by a tight end.

  • Case against: Two issues are working against Allen’s return, three if you take into account his desire to be more involved in the offense.While no one should question Allen’s value, it’s fair to wonder if he’s worth the risk. Twice, he’s finished the season on the injured reserve list (hip and calf injuries), and he’s missed 21 of a possible 64 regular-season games with injuries. Also, management will face stricter constraints under the salary cap moving forward and likely will have to decide whether it should target Allen or Coby Fleener. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where both return.

    And we shouldn’t dismiss Allen’s desire to be more than an extra offensive lineman. That might require a fresh start somewhere else.

  • Projection: We anticipate a relocation in Allen’s immediate future, and there should be more than a few suitors. It would be interesting if the Arizona Cardinals kicked his tires. Cardinals coach Bruce Arians played a role in the Colts’ taking Allen in the third round of the 2012 draft and witnessed Allen at his best.
  • Quotable: “If you grade or evaluate my season (based on statistics), it would be unfair,’’ Allen said. “I don’t feel as though I was used the way I should have been used. I signed up to be a part of this team and the way the coaching staff and personnel (staff) decided to use me is how they used me.“But the film speaks for itself. Football-wise, I played a lot of good football. Wish I could have played (more) and done a little more things, but the best is yet to come. If I have the ability to choose (to play a heavier role), then I will. The thing about me is I want to win more than anything. My decision whenever it comes will be about winning. We play to win the game.’’

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51

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