Will Allen

This Date In Transactions History: Will Allen

In 2009, Will Allen was coming off three productive seasons with the Dolphins, and he was quickly establishing himself as one of the most reliable cornerbacks in the NFL. On May 26th, the cornerback signed a two-year, $16.2MM extension ($10MM guaranteed) with Miami… and he proceeded to play zero games under his new deal.

With one year still remaining on his contract, the deal was set to kick in during the 2010 campaign and would last through 2011. Allen looked like he was worth the money during the first chunk of the 2009 season, compiling 21 tackles, two interceptions, and six passes defended. It quickly went down hill for the defensive back, however, as he tore his ACL in a Week 6 matchup with the Saints, ending his season. That offseason, Allen was arrested and charged with driving under the influence after nearly blowing through a police roadblock.

Then, one week before the 2010 season (the season when his new contract was set to kick in), Allen was placed on the IR with a knee issue. To stick around Miami for the 2011 campaign, the defensive back had to rip up his lucrative deal and settle for a new, one-year contract that paid significantly less than the $5.5MM he was set to make. However, the veteran was ultimately released from this new deal prior to the start of the regular season.

Allen ended up catching on with Miami again in mid-September, and he ultimately compiled 43 tackles and three passes defended in 15 games. However, the team technically ended up getting zero production out of their initial $10MM investment.

Giants To Work Out Will Allen, Jeron Johnson

Add another pair of safeties to the Giants’ growing list of auditionees. According to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter), the Giants will workout veteran defensive backs Will Allen and Jeron Johnson tomorrow. We learned yesterday that the team was also going to take a look at former Pro Bowl safety Donte Whitner and former undrafted free agent Shamiel Gary.

Will AllenAllen, 34, is the oldest of the bunch, although the veteran did have a career year for the Steelers in 2015. The 12-year veteran started 13 games, collecting career-highs in tackles (80), sacks (four), forced fumbles (two) and passes defended (eight). Allen has only missed 17 games throughout his career, so he’d certainly add some dependability to a depleted Giants safety corps.

Johnson has bounced around a bit since entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2011. The five-year veteran had one of his best seasons with the Redskins in 2015, compiling a career-high 27 tackles. The 28-year-old caught on with the Chiefs this offseason, but he was ultimately released in early September.

The Giants secondary has been struggling with injuries. Safeties Nat Berhe and Darian Thompson are both battling various ailments and are unlikely to play on Monday night. PFR’s Dallas Robinson noted that cornerback Leon Hall could easily fill in, but the veteran will likely be required to play his natural position considering the injuries to cornerbacks Eli Apple and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Best Available NFL Free Agents: Defense

The most high-profile free agent signings occurred more than two months ago, but as we near June there are still talented NFL free agents available on the open market. Most of these players (with a few exceptions) won’t command much guaranteed money, and given that we’ve passed the May 12 deadline, none will factor into the compensatory draft pick formula. After examining the offensive side of the ball yesterday, let’s take a look at the defensive players who will try to find a home as training camp approaches…Donte Whitner (Veritcal)

1. Donte Whitner, S: Despite being released by the Browns last month, Whitner is still an excellent player, having graded as the league’s No. 24 safety among 89 qualifiers in 2015, per Pro Football Focus. Remarkably durable (he’s missed only three games in the past six years), Whitner visited with the Rams in early April, and is reportedly still on Los Angeles’ radar. Elsewhere, both the Chargers and the Cowboys could make sense as potential landing spots if San Diego and Dallas want to upgrade on Jahleel Addae and Barry Church, respectively.

2. Leon Hall, CB: Hall hasn’t lacked suitors this offseason, as the Cowboys, Cardinals, Giants, and Falcons have all shown varying levels of interest in the 31-year-old cornerback over the past several months. He’s not the boundary defender that he used to be, but Hall is a productive slot corner, which essentially makes him a starter in today’s NFL. Health questions have nagged Hall throughout his entire career, and an offseason back procedure won’t quiet those concerns, but the former Bengal figures to find a new home sooner rather than later.

3. Greg Hardy, DE: Clearly the best defender on this list in terms of pure talent, Hardy’s off-the-field issues don’t need to be rehashed here. The 27-year-old edge rusher and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, are apparently lobbying NFL clubs for an opportunity, detailing the steps Hardy has taken to correct his pattern of behavior. However, it doesn’t appear as though many teams are convinced Hardy has changed his tune, as sources told Ed Werder of ESPN.com that no one is interested in Hardy, with executives calling him — at best — a “hard sell” to ownership and — at worst — “toxic.”
Dwight Freeney (Vertical)

4. Dwight Freeney, LB/DE: Freeney spent roughly a third of the 2015 season at home, waiting until the Cardinals called in October to get back on an NFL field. Now 36 years old, Freeney has become something of a cause célèbre of mine, as I think he’s a far more valuable player than the league apparently does. I outlined Freeney’s tools in April of last year, and much of what I wrote at the time still holds — any number of clubs could benefit from allowing Freeney to get after the quarterback 20-25 times per game. A reunion with Arizona isn’t out of the question, and the Ravens, Bengals, Panthers, Jets, Patriots, Lions, Chiefs, and Bills could all use an extra edge rusher.

5. Brandon Boykin, CB: At age 25, Boykin surprisingly had to settle for a minimum salary benefit contract to join the Panthers in March — he lasted less than two months on the roster, as he was released by Carolina earlier this week. That series of events, coupled with Boykin’s relative lack of playing time after being dealt to the Steelers last year, is hard to figure, as Boykin is considered one of the premier slot corners in the game. With teams lining up in sub packages more than 60% of the time, Boykin is capable of playing a substantial role, and shouldn’t stay on the street for long.

6. Mike Neal, LB: Neal started a career-high 15 games last season, and has posted at least four sacks in each of the past four years. He’s met with both the Lions and the Seahawks this offseason, but has yet to sign a contract, and would seemingly only be in line for a one-year pact at this point. The Packers selected fellow linebacker Kyler Fackrell in the third round of last month’s draft, so Green Bay probably isn’t an option (though Neal is open to returning). It’s possible that the 2015 Al Jazeera report that linked Neal to PEDs is hindering his market, a sentiment with which Neal agrees.Chris Culliver (Vertical)

7. Chris Culliver, CB: It’s been a trying 12 months or so for Culliver, whose 2015 one-game suspension voided his 2016 $8MM guarantee, making it much easier for Washington to release him — which they did earlier this month. Culliver, 27, also tore his ACL in November, meaning his availability for the start of the season could be in doubt. But Culliver is the one true outside cornerback on this list, and he has also has youth on his side. A smart team might sign Culliver to a two-year deal with limited or no guarantees for the 2017 season, let him rehab for the first half of 2016, and then evaluate him over the course of November and December.

8. Antrel Rolle, S: Rolle isn’t going to get the same kind of offers that fellow safety Whitner will — not only is he more than three years older, but Rolle ranked a little lower among safeties than did Whitner, coming in at No. 39 in the NFL according to PFF. Rolle has expressed an interest in reuniting with the Giants, with whom he spent the 2010-14 seasons, and on paper, it’s a match that makes a lot of sense, as New York needs a rangy free safety opposite Landon Collins. The Rams, Falcons, and Buccaneers could have interest in the veteran defensive back, as could the Colts if they plan to move 2016 second-rounder T.J. Green to cornerback, as has been rumored.

9. O’Brien Schofield, LB: Schofield and the Falcons were said to be working on a deal as far back as early March, but no signing ever came to fruition. At the time, the Cowboys, Bears, and Titans were reported to have interest in Schofield, and while he’s expressed his preference to return to Atlanta, he remains a free agent. Head coach Dan Quinn has stated he hopes that Schofield is re-signed, and the Falcons have in fact made an offer. Primarily a nickel linebacker, Schofield agreed to a two-year deal with the Giants in 2014 only to see it fall apart due to medical concerns — it’s unclear whether his current disagreement with Atlanta is due to injury questions or financial disparities.

10. Jeremy Mincey, DE: At 32 years old, Mincey isn’t going to suddenly blossom into a star, but he’s more than capable of being thrown into a defensive end rotation on a team that runs a 4-3 scheme. Mincey didn’t post any sacks last season, but he registered six quarterback takedowns in 2014, which led to him holding out for an extra $500K the following offseason. The Cowboys reportedly aren’t interested in a reunion, but Mincey did generate some level of trade interest last November, so it’s likely that there are clubs who’d be willing to offer a one-year deal.

Honorable mention: Chris Canty, DL; Henry Melton, DT; Kevin Williams, DT; Cortez Allen, CB; Antonio Cromartie, CB; Cortland Finnegan, CB; Jayron Hosley, CB; Will Allen, S.

Safety Walter Thurmond was not included on this list because he’s contemplating retirement and has reportedly turned down offers of $4MM per year.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract Details: Johnson, Spencer, Lattimore

We learned yesterday that the Lions have disputed the Buccaneers‘ offer sheet to George Johnson, extending the process beyond yesterday’s initial decision deadline. However, it wasn’t immediately clear what Detroit’s issue with the offer sheet was.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk sheds a little light on the subject today, reporting that the Lions want to know whether they have to match all the specifics of a Bucs’ offer that includes de-escalators in the second and third years of the deal. Per Florio, the three-year, $9MM proposal could shrink to $7MM over three years if the de-escalators are applied, so depending on how an arbitrator rules, Detroit may only have to match that lower $7MM figure.

As we wait for resolution on Johnson, which should come by the end of next week, let’s break down a few more new contracts from around the NFL…

  • Anthony Spencer inked a minimum salary benefit contract with the Saints, allowing the team to carry a cap hit of just $665K, tweets Evan Woodbery of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Spencer’s one-year deal includes an $80K signing bonus to go along with a base salary of $870K.
  • Jamari Lattimore also signed a minimum salary deal with the Jets, though since he has less NFL experience than Spencer, his base salary is just $745K, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. The linebacker’s one-year contract includes a $60K signing bonus and a $20K roster bonus.
  • Wilson passes along the details on one more minimum salary benefit contract, tweeting that Will Allen‘s deal with the Steelers is worth $1.05MM, including a $970K base salary and an $80K signing bonus. Like Spencer and Lattimore, Allen will count for only $665K against his team’s cap.

Steelers Re-Sign Will Allen

A day after losing the best safety in their storied history in Troy Polamalu, the Steelers kept another by re-signing Will Allen to a one-year deal, according to ESPN’s Adam Caplan (via Twitter).

Entering his age-33 season, Allen’s played with the Steelers in every season since 2010. Pittsburgh re-signed Allen after the Cowboys cut him in 2013. The former Buccaneers fourth-round pick in 2004 started four games for Pittsburgh last year.

Pro Football Focus gave Allen a modest minus-3.6 grade last season in 310 snaps.

Terms of the deal are not known, but it would be surprising if it’s for much more than the veteran minimum. Allen earned $955K last season.

Steelers Re-Sign Will Allen

The Steelers have re-signed defensive back Will Allen, according to agent Blake Baratz (Twitter link). Terms of the deal haven’t been disclosed, but I imagine it will be a one-year, minimum-salary contract, perhaps including a little bonus money.

After being released by the Cowboys last season, Allen caught back on in Pittsburgh, where he had spent the previous three seasons. Allen appeared in 10 games for the team and saw plenty of action in the secondary and on special teams down the stretch. The 31-year-old recorded 35 tackles and an interception for the Steelers, and received slightly above-average grades for his play from Pro Football Focus.

Having also locked up linebacker Jason Worilds as their transition player, the Steelers will need to clear salary in other spots in order to get under the cap before next Tuesday. One potential move for the team would involve restructuring Troy Polamalu‘s contract. ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter reported this morning that Pittsburgh won’t release the veteran safety, but the club figures to try to rework Polamalu’s deal, perhaps asking him to take a pay cut.