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Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Free-agent dossier: Nate Allen

By Phil Sheridan

PHILADELPHIA -- Taken individually, each of safety Nate Allen's four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles gets an asterisk.

In 2010, the second-round pick was a rookie on a team that still had championship aspirations (or delusions, depending on your perspective). Allen tore the patellar tendon in his right knee late in the season.

Allen
That injury provided an asterisk for 2011, as did the disastrous promotion of offensive line coach Juan Castillo to defensive coordinator. Allen was part of a mismatched secondary that included marquee acquisitions Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

As for 2012, that was a lost season for the entire franchise, and Allen was hardly the biggest problem. In 2013, Allen spent his first season in the system of new defensive coordinator Bill Davis. He also had arguably his best all-around season, as far as that goes.

Taken all together, though, Allen’s tenure with the Eagles amounts to very little -- he has as many career interceptions (six) as Brandon Boykin had in 2013. Maybe the odds were against him to some degree, but there is no escaping the sense that a better, more aggressive safety would have left more of a mark than Allen did.

It is not out of the question that he will be back. The defense as a whole improved over the course of Davis’ first season. While general manager Howie Roseman has acknowledged the need to improve the back end of the defense, there is a chance he won’t be able to acquire a significantly better safety during free agency. If it comes down to Allen or Patrick Chung, the Eagles might be better off with the 6-1, 210-pound Allen. He is, after all, only 26.

But then there is the flip side. Allen said immediately after the season that he would like to return to the Eagles. But it might be that he finds a change of scenery appealing once he hits the market. If several of the top safeties -- Jairus Byrd, Donte Whitner, T.J. Ward -- never reach free agency, Allen could be attractive to a team looking for a reasonably priced alternative.

Some teams, especially those that liked Allen coming out of South Florida in 2010, might see the asterisks more clearly than the Eagles do.