Free safety Ricardo Allen is a restricted free agent this offseason, but the Falcons may look to lock him up with a multi-year contract. When asked about whether Allen could receive a long-term deal rather than play out the year under the one-year restricted free-agent tender, GM Thomas Dimitroff seemed open to the possibility.
“Yes, I believe we can create space for Rico and a number of other players,” Dimitroff said (via Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com). “That said, we are always striving for creativity. And decisions made on certain free agents, whether they be restricted or unrestricted, oftentimes are contingent on the creativity they enable or not.”
No matter what, Allen is in line for a significant pay bump. Last year, he earned just $615K as an exclusive-rights free agent. Meanwhile, he proved to be an excellent value as he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 31 ranked safety in the NFL (tied with Eric Reid, Tashaun Gipson, and Tre Boston).
The Falcons seem likely to at least place a second-round tender on Allen, which figures to come in at just under $3MM this year. RFAs have until April 20 to sign an offer sheet from a rival club and teams have until June 15 to withdraw the tender. Even if Allen signs a tender, it will not preclude the team from inking him to an extension.
As McClure notes, right tackle Ryan Schraeder signed a $2.553MM second-round tender in March 2016 only to agree to a five-year, $31.5MM extension with the Falcons that November. Allen could take that route, but he may also want to borrow a page from Andrew Norwell‘s playbook. The Panthers guard played under the $2.746MM RFA tender in 2017 and now figures to become one of the highest-paid players at his position as an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
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