When the NFL‘s free agency period began this past spring, there were many rumblings about what the Dallas Cowboys would do regarding the safety position which has been a weakness in recent years. Naturally, the big names came to the forefront. Ronde Barber was floated around for a little while, thought of as a perfect fit in his old defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin‘s scheme. Barber is now retired, but he was a part of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ 2002 Super Bowl winning team – a defense directed by Kiffin.
Then there was another veteran in Charles Woodson, the former defensive player of the year who ended up signing back with his first NFL team, the Oakland Raiders. Michael Huff was also talked about, the University of Texas product who was highly regarded coming out of college by the Cowboys’ front office, but his asking price was too high and he ultimately signed on in Baltimore as Ed Reed‘s replacement.
The Cowboys instead went for a lower profile veteran in the form of 31 year old Will Allen. While he may not be a big name guy, won’t command the same media attention as a Barber, Woodson, or Huff would have, and may not produce up to a very high level, Allen should have a great impact on this group of Cowboys.
For all their talent, one could argue that the Cowboys do lack somewhat in the leadership department. They have great players, but in recent years, it’s been hard to pinpoint who their unquestioned leader is. You could argue it’s Tony Romo, Jason Witten or DeMarcus Ware.
But what one could argue is that what the Cowboys don’t have is a stable force – a guy who quietly comes to work, goes hard at his craft, and leads by example. Greg Ellis was probably the last Cowboy to truly fill that role, but he left the team in 2008 after an 11-year run in Dallas.
For this team, though, Allen could fill that same role.
He isn’t flashy and he isn’t an All Pro, but what he is and what he will bring is a stabilizing force in the locker room and on the field.
The 10-year veteran spent his first six seasons in the league with Buccaneers (2004-2009) including his first five with Kiffin as defensive coordinator. Most recently, Allen played three years for the Pittsburgh Steelers (2010-2012), and it’s what he will bring from that stint that will be a welcomed addition in Dallas.
Around the NFL and in all of pro sports in general, you would be hard pressed to find a better run franchise than the Steelers.
Classy ownership, coaching continuity, and consistent success have been the hallmarks of the Steelers over their illustrious history that dates back to 1933. They preach discipline, accountability, hard work – the classic recipe for winning football.
Allen, having come from that organization, will bring those same qualities to the Dallas Cowboys. Beyond the field, he will bring the veteran presence of a guy who has been to the Super Bowl – something no other Cowboy can lay claim to – and also a guy who will be respected amongst his younger position contemporaries and fellow veterans alike.
Ellis left the Cowboys after the 2008 season, and ever since the team has been in need of that same veteran presence.
Will Allen should bring that stability this season.