The New York Giants have been searching for an all-around tight end ever since they let Martellus Bennett slip away from them after his breakout 2012 season. Could Dwayne Allen of the Indianapolis Colts, a four-year veteran who is set to become an unrestricted free agent, be the player the Giants have been looking for.
When the Giants signed Bennett away from the Dallas Cowboys before the 2012 season he had been an under-used blocking tight end stuck behind future Hall of Famer Jason Witten. His career-best had been 33 receptions. He caught 55 passes with the Giants, then signed a lucrative long-term deal with the Chicago Bears. He has caught at least 53 passes in each of his three seasons in Chicago and made the Pro Bowl in 2014.
The 6-foot-3, 265-pound Allen, who turns 26 later this month, is in an eerily similar situation with Indianapolis. He isn't stuck behind a Hall of Famer, but he is playing second fiddle to Coby Fleener, a college teammate of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck who has more than 50 receptions in each of the last three seasons. Flenner, incidentally, can also become a free agent next month.
Allen had a career-best 45 receptions as a rookie in 2012. After missing most of 2013 with an injury, he had just 29 receptions on 50 targets in 2014 and 16 receptions on 29 targets in 2015. He has admittedly grown frustrated with his lack of opportunities in the passing game:
"If you use a spatula to swat flies, it’s still a spatula," Allen said. "You just misused the spatula. To grade or evaluate my season would be unfair a little bit because I don’t think I was used the way I should have been used. I signed up to be a part of this team and the way the coaching staff and personnel decided to use me is how they were going to use me. But to evaluate my game as a tight end in the NFL, the film speaks for itself." ...
"I'm very proud of my blocking ability and love the opportunity to go out there and help the team in that role, but whenever my skill set is boxed in to just that, that's what frustrates me the most."
Allen has said he hopes to stay in Indianapolis, but the Indianapolis Star believes Allen would be "open to outside offers. He wants to play in a situation where he can have a bigger role in the offense than he did in 2015. His frustration with his stunning 29 targets this season won't soon be forgotten."
The Giants have been unable to solidify the position the past three seasons and missed the veteran presence of blocking tight end Daniel Fells (MRSA) in 2015. Brandon Myers (2013) could catch but was too small to be an effective blocker. Larry Donnell (2014-15) is a good receiver who doesn't have the will to be a good blocker. Will Tye? The sample size is small but his 2015 season showed receiving potential. His blocking? A work in progress.
Here is a scouting report on Allen, which is meant as a pros and cons of keeping him from a Colts perspective. It serves the same purpose as an argument for whether or not the Giants should pursue him in free agency
Case for re-signing: Allen is the total package wrapped in a 6-3, 265 frame. He is a viable threat in the passing game as evidenced by his 91 career receptions and 13 touchdowns, and is most dangerous in the red zone. He's strong enough to overpower defensive backs and quick enough to outrun linebackers.Allen also is the team's best blocker at his position. That's a major plus for the team, but too often worked against Allen at a personal level. Whenever the offensive line was unable to get its act together in pass protection - and that was often - the coaching staff turned to Allen and frequently turned him into an extra lineman. That led to him being virtually ignored in the passing game. Allen had his least productive season (we're tossing out 2013 when a hip injury limited him to one game and one catch) after being targeted just 29 times in 13 games. He finished with 16 receptions for 109 yards and one touchdown.
Allen's disappearing act in '15 makes it easy to forget the type of impact he offers. He led all rookie tight ends in 2012 with 45 receptions and 521 yards, and his eight touchdowns last season are tied for fourth-most in club history by a tight end.
Case against: Two issues are working against Allen's return, three if you take into account his desire to be more involved in the offense.While no one should question Allen's value, it's fair to wonder if he's worth the risk. Twice, he's finished the season on the injured reserve list (hip and calf injuries), and he's missed 21 of a possible 64 regular-season games with injuries. Also, management will face stricter constraints under the salary cap moving forward and likely will have to decide whether it should target Allen or Coby Fleener. It's hard to imagine a scenario where both return.
And we shouldn't dismiss Allen's desire to be more than an extra offensive lineman. That might require a fresh start somewhere else.
Your thoughts, Giants fans? Is this a player you would like to see the Giants pursue in free agency?