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The Optimist’s Take: One More Ride With Will Allen

The Pittsburgh Steelers have, by and large, been on an upward swing over the course of the past two and a half seasons after they missed the playoffs for two straight seasons, and failed to win a postseason game in four straight years.

Last season saw them gain that elusive playoff victory, though they came up short with about three minutes left in the Divisional round a week later. Their offense took off, and their defense improved, showing playmaking ability and opportunism.

But there are still a lot of unanswered questions facing the team as we crack into free agency territory. As an exercise, we like to take a stab at some of those questions, presenting arguments for the pros and cons of each side of the coin. This is the optimist’s take on the following question.

Question: Should the Steelers consider bringing back veteran safety Will Allen for one more season?

Originally drafted by the Buccaneers in 2004, veteran Will Allen spent the first half of his 12-year career in Tampa Bay, during the last two seasons of which he was coached by a defensive backs coach by the name of Mike Tomlin.

He has spent all but about a month or so of his career since then with the Steelers, briefly leaving for Dallas in 2013 in search of an opportunity to start. He did start a couple of games, but was released after about a month, and quickly scooped back up by the Steelers.

He has since then had an interesting career path, initially serving almost exclusively as a special teams player. Eventually he earned the distinction of being the team’s third safety, filling in as a starter due to injury for seven games in 2012.

After being re-signed in 2013 following his stint with the Cowboys, Allen was inserted back into the defense as the team’s quarters safety, a package that they used heavily that season in part due to the fact that they liked to have him on the field.

Ultimately, it was Allen who replaced Troy Polamalu in the starting lineup last season, starting 13 games and missing three due to injury. While he had his share of issues, missing tackles and giving up some touchdowns, the team continued to stick by him and put him back in the lineup after returning from missing three games.

His play actually stabilized somewhat later in the season, and he even managed to find a niche that he never had before in his entire career—that of a blitzer. Of his four career sacks, all four of them happened to come during the 2015 season, his 12th year in the league.

While it might not be such a great idea to bring Allen back with the intention of making him an every-snap player, and he has slowed down some, to be sure, he is a player who knows the Steelers’ system as well as anybody, and can serve as an extra defensive back on the field in select situations, either in the defensive backfield or up in the box.

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