Falcons: Farewell Ricardo Allen

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Earlier today, Adam Schefter reported the Falcons were releasing Ricardo Allen and Allen Bailey, which was always a possibility but how quickly it happened surprised me.

Schefter made a mistake, Allen is a safety, but the two save the Falcons around $11 million against the cap in 2021. This brings us to why the beloved Ricardo Allen was cut. These former Falcons were the biggest cap savings the team could make; it was a no-brainer for Terry Fontenot, even with everything Allen has done for the organization.

Rico was one of the most beloved players in the Falcons locker room due to his upstanding character. He always praised his teammates after wins and spoke candidly about them after losses, remaining optimistic regardless of the outcome or how he played. Allen was influential with his high football IQ and attention to detail, which will surely land him a coaching gig whenever he hangs it up. I can’t imagine anything but well-wishes for him and his family from the entire organization and fan base.

That optimism was on display a couple of years ago before Rico signed his extension. Without any contract, he still showed a positive attitude through a different perspective of dealing with adversity. Drafted, cut, practice squad, position switch, and made it to a second contract; Rico is inspiring to many and will forever be a Falcons favorite.

The most notable memory I have of Rico is when he suffered his Achilles injury. Stories were buzzing about how he couldn’t stay away and essentially became a coach. Still, the headline that didn’t get much attention was the one regarding Rico’s college teammate Joe Gilliam — who was diagnosed with spinal glioblastoma, a rare form of cancer; in early 2016, Gilliam passed away on Sep. 11, 2018, after a lengthy fight.

“I think being able to watch him and learn from him through that period made me a much stronger man,” Allen said. “He never complained about his situation. He never asked the ‘Why me?’ He probably did that by himself, but he did a really good job of staying strong in front of us.”

Allen’s loss truly will hurt the locker room, but on the field, maybe not so much. Rico was best at supporting the run this year, but even that was only serviceable. He struggled in coverage, and when he did rush the passer, it wasn’t as effective as it was in the past. I do think it was a down year, and I believe in the right system that he can return to the level of play we remember.

This is why I thought keeping Allen might have been in the cards, though; he’s literally a perfect fit for Dean Pees’ defense. How intelligently he plays, Allen could’ve made learning a new system easier for others, especially with how versatile the former Purdue Boilermaker is. He can play single-high safety, rotate down in the box or the slot, blitz, and support the run from everywhere. Allen wasn’t elite in any area by any means, but he did well enough in all of them.

It is known now that Fontenot scouted and prepared gameplans for Sean Payton; he clearly is familiar with Allen. For him to conclude that the $6 million in savings and $2 million in dead cap outweighed Allen’s presence, you have to trust him.

Allen went from the practice squad all the way to team captain. He embodied what the Falcons strived to be these past years, but the organization is going in a different direction, and he’s not apart of the plan. However, because of his versatility, experience and leadership, there will surely be a market for someone like Rico.



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