Dwayne Allen didn’t exactly get his day in the sun after being traded to the New England Patriots.
And that’s not a commentary on the dreary weather in New England so far this spring, though it would be cool if temperatures would climb above 50 at some point. Thus concludes the small talk portion of this column.
Allen was traded from the Indianapolis Colts on the afternoon before the start of the new NFL league year. It was the transaction that sparked countless others, officially setting off the Patriots’ offseason, and it kind of got buried.
It was apparent at the time the Patriots would not be bringing back Martellus Bennett, so finding a tight end to complement and back up their injury-prone starter Rob Gronkowski was paramount. Allen might not have as great of a role in the Patriots’ offense as initially imagined, however.
So, how will Allen fit into the offense?
TIGHT END DWAYNE ALLEN
6-foot-3, 265 pounds
27 years old
4.89-second 40-yard dash, 1.73-second 10-yard split, 32-inch vertical leap, 9-feet, 2-inch broad jump, 4.37-second short shuttle, 7.12-second 3-cone drill
2016 stats: 35 catches, 406 yards, six touchdowns
Gronkowski might have commitment issues; he’s on his fifth tight end sidekick in as many years. Granted, his last long-term partner’s tenure really couldn’t have ended worse.
There’s reason to believe, however, Allen will stick longer than Michael Hoomanawanui, Tim Wright, Scott Chandler and Bennett.
Allen has three years left on his contract and is remarkably cheap over the first two. He’s also used to playing second fiddle to bigger passing weapons. He worked with Coby Fleener and Jack Doyle in Indianapolis.
Allen probably won’t put up massive receiving numbers unless (or until?) Gronkowski goes down with an injury. He’ll be used as a blocker and sporadically as a receiver in two tight-end sets. He also likely will spell Gronkowski in one-tight end formations throughout the season to prevent the All-Pro from getting injured.
The Patriots ran fewer two-tight end sets than expected last season with Gronkowski and Bennett, and it’s unlikely they’ll use the formation often in 2017 because of the assemblage of other weapons in their offense. The Patriots have Rex Burkhead, James White and Dion Lewis at running back and Brandin Cooks, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell and Danny Amendola at wide receiver. Throw in Gronkowski, and how many balls are left to go Allen’s way?
That’s not to say Allen will spend three years rotting on the bench in New England. History sadly suggests Gronkowski will go down at some point. And even if he doesn’t, the Patriots would be wise to conserve his snaps. New England needed a player of Allen’s caliber to make sure the offense still ticks while Gronkowski’s not available.
Allen probably won’t rack up yards in the Patriots’ offense, but the Patriots’ second tight ends usually do pretty well in the red zone. Allen can set himself apart near the goal line with his receiving and blocking skills.
Thumbnail photo via Mykal McEldowney/Indy Star via USA TODAY NETWORK Images