The Pittsburgh Steelers defense appears to be in transition, but one constant that will remain in place is safety Will Allen.
Allen has spent parts of four seasons in the Steel City, and his agent Blake Baratz announced on Twitter that the partnership will remain intact in 2014:
Baratz did not release any terms of the deal, but the 31-year-old Ohio State product is viewed as a depth player, so it is unlikely that Pittsburgh broke the bank in order to retain him.
Allen was a solid player for the Steelers from 2010 through 2012 before signing with the Dallas Cowboys for the 2013 season. After five games, however, Allen was released, and he decided to return to Pittsburgh.
Was re-signing Allen the right move by the Steelers?
He went on to play an important role for the Steelers as a third safety and he ended the campaign with 34 tackles and an interception.
Allen has started just 12 games since starting all 16 contests with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2006, so he isn't a superstar by any means. Every successful team needs versatile players capable of stepping in when their name is called, though, and Allen fits the bill.
Allen could play an expanded role in 2014 if the Steelers opt to not re-sign pending free agent safety Ryan Clark.
Cap space is an issue for the Steelers, so it made perfect sense for them to retain a familiar player like Allen who probably didn't cost much. One thing that Pittsburgh is unwilling to do is release veteran safety Troy Polamalu, according to NFL on ESPN via Adam Schefter:
Despite the need to create cap space, the Steelers will not release S Troy Polamalu. (via @AdamSchefter)— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) March 5, 2014
Per Allen Robinson of TribLive.com, team president Art Rooney II didn't make any promises in terms of who the team would re-sign as the organization tries to comply with the cap.
"(The) salary cap is a jigsaw puzzle, and a lot of pieces to fit together," Rooney said. "Every year it's a challenge."
The Steelers played extremely well after signing Allen in the middle of last season, but Chris Bradford of the Beaver County Times doesn't necessarily believe that Allen was the driving force behind that:
#Steelers went 8-4 after reacquiring safety Will Allen from Dallas last season. Coincidence? ... Actually, probably, just coincidence.— Chris Bradford (@BCTBradford) March 5, 2014
Allen was a steady presence in Pittsburgh's secondary, and while re-signing him won't cause Steelers fans to rejoice, it is certainly a sensible move.
He is a player that defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau can trust in all situations as the Steelers try to make it back to the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
Even though Allen won't receive much of the glory, he'll definitely be in the thick of things all year long.
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