Dwayne Allen sounded like he anticipated a change of address.
The tight end was admittedly disgruntled about how the Indianapolis Colts used him in 2015. Just 16 catches and being asked to block wasn’t the kind of production befitting a playmaker, especially one about to become a free agent.
Then, just before free agency began, the Colts showed him the money, $29.4 million for four years.
And Allen’s perspective changed.
“The money itself wasn’t the deciding factor, but their willingness to pay what they thought I deserved spoke volumes of their confidence in me and also their want to have me back with the team,” Allen said on a conference call earlier this week. “At the end of the year, it was one of those feelings where we were losing, I wasn’t being used and I felt like I was the only one who thought that was a problem. When you have that, it gives you the feeling that you are not wanted and that you don’t belong. But of course with their offer, they said otherwise.”
The fifth-year pro didn’t admit the numbers were a surprise to him, although it’s fair to say he got paid surprisingly well, to say the least. Consider that another Colts tight end, Coby Fleener, had double the receptions and receiving yards in four years, but was allowed to walk and he signed a five-year, $36-million deal with the New Orleans Saints.
What Allen did concede is what he’s been saying for a while: He can provide much more. Part of his lack of production at times can be attributed to injuries that sidelined him for 21 games in four years. But he played in 13 games last season, and they made him block. He caught just four passes for first downs with three touchdowns.
“I did have the opportunity to speak with offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski,” Allen said. “He discussed my role going forward in the offense and me having the opportunity to play the tight end position. But again, the tight end position comes with a lot of different tasks. Some of it will include blocking premier pass rushers, but hopefully a lot of it will include me blocking for runs and helping to open up lanes for whoever is running the ball and also catching passes to convert first downs and touchdowns.”
Allen said the negotiation process changed rather suddenly — “It really went from zero to 100.” His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, talked to other teams about their interest. Allen insisted he had hoped to stay with the Colts, although accepting the possibility of heading elsewhere.
“This is where I wanted to be,” he said. “I promised them on draft night, well excuse me the day after the draft, I called them back, called coach Chuck Pagano back and promised him that I would be the best tight end in the Colts’ franchise history. Of course that’s a tall, tall order and through my first four years I was not able to come close to scratching that promise. With this deal and the next four years going forward, I’m going to have the opportunity to make good on that promise.
“I knew that the glimpses, which were glimpses because of my absence on the field due to injuries and other circumstances, I knew that even with those glimpses I was able to show enough flashes of the player that I can be. Going forward it’s on me to make sure that number one I’m healthy and I’m on the field but number two also that I’m performing at a high level. (General manager) Ryan Grigson and Coach Pagano have done a great job of putting together a coaching staff, a training staff and a weight room staff that are going to enable me to do that.”
Allen sounds like he did after being drafted with the first pick in the third round of 2012.
“Ever since joining this league I’ve had something to prove. Going forward, this contract, this deal changes nothing,” he said. “My goal and what I told the coaching staff and Ryan Grigson last night is that I want to be the best. With this deal, it told me that, ‘Hey, we believe that you can be the best.’
“Having their confidence behind me, my chip on my shoulder and again, the great coaching staff, training staff and weight room staff that they have in place – 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 and the best tight end in the National Football League.”
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.