End-of-season player exit meetings are not something that we are often privy to as outsiders of the football world. Generally, we only get a glimpse into that world when a player is asked by a reporter how the meeting went, if the player is willing to discuss it.
Still, it’s not generally a hard concept to grasp, and we have a pretty good feel by now of how Mike Tomlin and his staff likes to operate, and we see all the game film, so it’s not an overly difficult project to simulate. If we were to administer the end-of-season player exit meetings, it might go something like this.
Player: Will Allen
Experience: 11 Years
If Will Allen is re-signed by the Steelers during the course of this offseason, which seems likely, then he’ll have spent nearly as much time in Pittsburgh than he did in Tampa Bay, where he was drafted and spent the first six years of his career.
Tomlin brought his former safety from his Tampa days to the Steelers in the 2010 offseason, but he spent his first two seasons toiling away on special teams. It wasn’t until 2012 that he began to get involved on defense as an injury replacement for Troy Polamalu.
Allen started seven games that season and used that performance to earn himself a chance at a starting job with the Cowboys in 2013. He did, starting the first two games for the Cowboys that year before being released after five games.
The Steelers re-signed him immediately and he played the last 12 games of the year there, eventually settling in as the third safety in the Steelers’ quarters package after rookie Shamarko Thomas went down with an ankle injury.
The team quickly re-signed him to a one-year deal last offseason, and they would be foolish not to do so again with the pending departure with Polamalu looming. Thomas is projected to enter the starting lineup, but having Allen there as a fallback option should be a priority.
Despite the fact that he will be 33 by the time he enters his 12th season, Allen showed late last year that he can still be a valuable commodity on defense, particularly because he uses his brains to get by as much as his brawn. He makes his mistakes here and there, but he is a savvy player, the kind that teams need to get by.
Despite logging only a little over 300 snaps, Allen still managed to record 36 tackles in addition to forcing a fumble. He started the last two games of the regular season in place of Polamalu and combined for 14 tackles between them.
Allen is a team player who enjoys his time in Pittsburgh, and he will come cheap. Despite his age, he still has the physical tools to play his game. He is a valuable backup who can spot start if necessary, and when not, can still command quality snaps in sub-packages. And he has no qualms about playing special teams.