Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press
If the season began July 15, Nate Allen would be starting at safety opposite Malcolm Jenkins. That being said, the first game is almost two months away, and the Eagles made Allen no promises when he re-signed on a one-year deal back in March.
Allen will have to fend off 2013 fifth-round pick Earl Wolff if he intends to keep his job. Wolff appeared in 11 games during his rookie season, starting in six. He certainly wasn’t a liability or anything of the sort, nor did he really set himself apart, either, finishing with five pass breakups and an interception.
Of course, Wolff is only 24 years old and has his entire career ahead of him. Now entering his fifth NFL season, Allen is still trying to shake the dreaded “draft bust” label despite coming off a solid campaign.
Allen improved gradually as last year went along, to the point where his performance ranged somewhere from “competent” to “good” on a consistent basis. Impact plays were lacking, however, as Allen registered one sack, one interception and one forced fumble over 16 starts.
The Eagles apparently flirted with moving on from Allen, waiting nearly a full week into free agency before bringing him back. If nothing else, he makes for a fine insurance policy in the event Wolff isn’t ready to seize the opportunity.
I feel like Allen may be on the upswing yet himself, though. A second-round pick in 2010, Allen is only 26, and last year was the first time since he was a rookie Philadelphia’s defense was remotely stable. Wolff better be prepared for a fight.