Seahawks Free Agency Target: Jeff Allen


The Seahawks are just under a month away from one of the more exciting and entertaining portions of the NFL calendar–the strip club-like showering of cash upon unrestricted free agents!

While official numbers for the 2016 season have not yet been calculated and distributed, several estimates show Seattle with roughly $19.5M in available salary cap space- a number likely to grow to about $26M once the teams sheds Marshawn Lynch’s contract via retirement (but only when Lynch files retirement papers with the league, and he hasn’t yet). This would put them right around the middle of the league in cap room, for reference.

The team will lean heavily on the draft, as always, because it needs to rely on carrying several cheap rookie contracts to counter the effect of the mega-deals already handed out to the best players on the team like Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and others.

However, this year is likely to also feature a couple of small splash free agent deals, with at least one spent to fortify the troubled offensive line. It wouldn’t be surprising to see two veteran UFA’s signed, as the situation up front is DEFCON 1 and the $80M quarterback requires at least SOME protection.

Knowing this, we can look at the bevy of available options and identify a player or players that would fit in the locker room and also the philosophy of the organization.

We know line coach Tom Cable has physical preferences for his linemen. He likes guards that are between 6’3 and 6’5 because they have the size to impose will but are also not too tall to lose the leverage game. He likes tackles with length and plus athleticism. We also know the front office was unhappy with no longer being the more physical, more intimidating team on the field at times. That is absolutely an indictment of the people on the line of scrimmage and you can bet the new blood added will be, shall we say, “gritty”.

Once available free agents that possess the characteristics described above are identified, they’ll next be narrowed down to the most preferred targets.

I have a few ‘Plan B’-type guys in mind if the top choice is unable to be swayed into joining the Seahawks. Those players include Amini Silatolu, Brandon Brooks and Ramon Foster. All are affordable options that would stabilize a guard spot in the short term.

But, there is one guy that I want to court who would be far and away the best fit for this team and would immediately and drastically upgrade the offensive line’s effectiveness. Say hello to Kansas City Chiefs tackle/guard Jeff Allen.

Seahawks should target unrestricted free agent Jeff Allen
Seahawks should target unrestricted free agent Jeff Allen /

Jeff Allen   RT/LG

6’4″                306lbs                Age 26                Illinois                Arm Length: 33.5”       Experience: 4 Years              Mean Streaks: 1

As you can see, Allen checks off many of the boxes that otherwise disqualify other possible additions right off the bat. He has the physical characteristics preferred by the line coach, he has shown positional versatility at the NFL level and he’s also just reaching his prime with quite possibly the best years of his career in front of him.

So why wouldn’t the Chiefs retain him? Well, that team has quite a few high profile free agents to deal with and Allen may not rank as high on the priority list as guys like Eric Berry, Jaye Howard, Derrick Johnson and others. Somebody is going to fall through the cracks due to the constraints of the salary cap (Chiefs have roughly $28M of room), and the hope here is that it’s Allen.

Beyond the tape measure statistics, Allen possesses one very important trait that is lacking among the current linemen.

He’s ornery.

This is something the team lost when Breno Giacomini and James Carpenter left via free agency. While it was understandable to let those guys walk based on their contracts offered versus their individual skill levels, one very important trait they took with them was nastiness. The players that replaced them are different types of guys. Not worse, necessarily, just different. Less physical, let’s say.

Enter Jeff Allen. In researching Allen, I came across this quote from his position coach, Andy Heck. You may remember him as a former first round choice of the Seahawks who played right tackle for the team many moons ago. About Allen, Heck said:

"“Jeff by nature has a little bit of an edge to him and it’s stuff that you like to see in offensive line play. He’s finishing to the echo of the whistle. We try to make sure that we’re making guys on defense feel our presence every play and he’s a guy that really brings that to the table. So, he leads in that way by example and it carries over to the rest of the guys.”"

When John Schneider openly talks about the need to be more physical, he’s talking about a guy like Jeff Allen.

Allen played both left and right tackle in college. A 2nd round pick of the Chiefs four years ago, he has bounced around KC’s line a bit, logging most starts at left guard and some at right tackle in 2015, though the constant shifting of responsibilities has perturbed Allen just a bit. Allen recently joined Geoff Schwartz’ podcast and said something very interesting when asked about what he’s looking for as an unrestricted free agent. Check out this quote from Allen:

"“First off I’m looking for a team that’s ready to win. I think Kansas City, we did a good job this year putting together a good season but we didn’t finish the way we wanted to. I’m looking for a team that’s going to be a Super Bowl contender. A team where I’m gonna be comfortable with the guys in the room. I want one position where I know I’m going to be playing going into the offseason so I can focus on one thing.”"

Paging John Schneider! Paging John Schneider, please!

Allen could be plugged in immediately at right tackle, allowing Garry Gilliam to concentrate on getting reps at left tackle as either the replacement for Russell Okung or, ideally, the swing tackle spot. Either way it behooves the team to get Gilliam as many reps on the left side as possible and the addition of Allen would fortify the right tackle spot for years to come.

Or, if the Seahawks go another route at right tackle, be it keeping Gilliam there or drafting for that spot, Allen can be your day 1 starter at left guard and stop the issue of immediate QB pressure being applied through that area of the line.

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He just wants to know which way it’ll go up front. That can be accommodated, Mr. Allen.

Whichever way things flow along the line, Jeff Allen could be key to its repair and reemergence.

So how much would Jeff Allen cost?

Considering the nomadic nature of his experience with Kansas City and the fact that he has missed some time in the past due to injury (bicep in 2014, knee in 2015), it is likely Allen can be had at a reasonable rate despite his acclaimed play. The guess here is somewhere around $4.5-5M per year, possibly less.

If this estimation is accurate, the Seahawks should make Jeff Allen the primary target of free agency and take at least one big, nasty step toward once again dictating play to their opponents and re-staking their claim at the top of the NFC.

It’s an election year, and my vote for first free agent acquisition of 2016 is Jeff Allen!