INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 8, 2016) – Dwayne Allen has yet to fulfill the promise he made to Chuck Pagano and the Indianapolis Colts shortly after they selected him in the third round of the 2012 NFL draft.
The four-year, $29.4 million contract the veteran tight end signed Monday buys more time.
Allen initially tested his value on the free-agent market through agent Drew Rosenhaus, but ultimately decided “this is where I wanted to be.’’
Besides, there was unfinished business to address. Allen recalled a conversation he had with Pagano the day after the Colts selected him with the 64th overall pick in the 2012 draft.
“I called coach Pagano back and promised him that I would be the best tight end in the Colts’ franchise history, and that’s a tall, tall order and through my first four years I was not able to come close to scratching that promise,’’ Allen said Tuesday.
There were injury issues. He’s missed 21 of a possible 64 regular-season games while battling hip, ankle, calf and knee injuries.
Allen’s effectiveness in the passing game last season was greatly diminished by an inconsistent offensive line. He was targeted just 29 times while often being used to shore up pass protection.
“With this deal and the next four years going forward I’m going to have the opportunity to make good on that promise,’’ Allen said. “I knew that the glimpses, which were glimpses because of my absence on the field due to injuries and other circumstances, I was able to show enough flashes of the player that I can be.’’
The magnitude of the contract — $7.35 million per season – makes Allen one of the top-10 tight ends in the NFL in terms of compensation.
“The money itself wasn’t a deciding factor,’’ Allen said of returning to the Colts. “But their willingness to play what they thought I deserved spoke volumes of their confidence in me.’’
Allen didn’t try to hide his frustrations last season as the team failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2011 and his role lessened. He wondered if he fit into the team’s future plans.
“With their offer,’’ he said, “they said otherwise.’’
During negotiations, Allen said the team was adamant his role would involve more than being an extra blocker. Blocking tight ends don’t merit $29 million contracts.
According to Allen, offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski assured him the opportunity would be to “play the tight end position.’’
“But again, the tight end position comes with a lot of different tasks and some of it will include blocking premier pass rushers,’’ Allen said. “But hopefully a lot of it will include me blocking for runs and helping open holes for whoever is running the ball and also catching passes to convert first downs and touchdowns.’’
In 2012, Allen led all rookie tight ends with 45 receptions and 521 yards. After missing the bulk of ’13 with a hip injury, he contributed 29 catches, 395 yards and eight touchdowns in ’14.
Then, the major dip last season.
To Allen, once again it’s time to prove himself.
“Man, ever since joining this league I’ve had something to prove,’’ he said. “The contract changes nothing.
“My goal and what I told the coaching staff and Ryan Grigson last night was that I want to be the best. With this deal, they told me, ‘Hey, we believe you can be the best.’
“It was a weight off my shoulders not having to go through free agency, but it definitely churned the fire in my belly to go out there and continue to grind and become the best that I possibly can, the best tight end in the National Football League.’’