On Wednesday, the Pittsburgh Steelers re-signed safety Will Allen to a one-year contract and while there’s no guarantee he makes the final 53 man roster out of training, for now, he can again serve as team safety net.
Being the Steelers safety net is a role that Allen should be used to playing now as the 31 year-old has been forced to do it the last two seasons. After starting safety Troy Polamalu went down with a calf injury early in the 2012 season, the Steelers first turned to Ryan Mundy to fill in for him. Mundy failed miserably at being the safety net and Allen was there to take over. He successfully held down the fort until Polamalu returned in Week 13.
Just last offseason, the Steelers tried to move on from their safety net and Allen signed with the Dallas Cowboys at the end of March. After starting the first two games of the season for the Cowboys, Allen was benched and ultimately released a few weeks later.
Allen wasn’t out of a job long, however, as the Steelers quickly signed him to help bolster their special teams units. They ultimately needed him as a safety net once again after then-rookie safety Shamarko Thomas went down with an ankle injury in the Week 10 game against the Buffalo Bills.
Even though starters Polamalu and Ryan Clark were healthy all season, Allen saw a lot of playing time over the remainder of the 2013 season in the Steelers quarters defense. He played well enough that Thomas never saw another snap once he returned to full health.
Now that Allen is back in the fold again, it doesn’t mean that the Steelers will ignore the safety position in the May draft. Should Thomas and the safety they wind up drafting need tutoring during the remainder of the offseason, Allen will be there to lend a hand.
While the general consensus seems to be that Thomas will take over for Clark this season, Allen quite possibly could be the player the Steelers turn to if the second-year player out of Syracuse struggles initially, as there’s a good chance he’ll be the safety net for one more season. Should Allen not make the final 53 man roster, there’s a good chance the safety net will only be a phone call away.