Ricardo Allen’s prepared for all options regarding future in NFL

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Safety Ricardo Allen discusses his future with the Falcons and the NFL following regular season finale against Tampa Bay.

Ricardo Allen isn’t sure what the future holds. Although he has one year to go under the contract he’s playing under, a new coach and general manager could choose a different route with the veteran safety’s standing on the roster. Allen believes he can still play the game at the NFL level and would love to remain with the Falcons, the franchise he’s been with for the past seven seasons.

Following Sunday’s season finale, a 44-27 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Allen said he is prepared mentally and financially for any scenario that could either keep him with the team or send him elsewhere.

“I would love to keep playing,” Allen said. “That’s my thing. If I can go and fight for the Falcons, this is my team, this is where I’ve been the last seven years. If that’s not the case, if I end up going somewhere else, I can make an opportunity. I can pick my choices if I still want to play as a player. I do think for purpose, I just don’t do things for money.”

Before the 2018 season began, Allen signed a three-year extension through 2021 valued at $19.5 million. Having collected $13.25 million of his deal to date, Allen is scheduled to earn a base salary of $6.25 million in 2021. However, if the new regime decides to cut Allen, it can save his base salary in cap space instead of taking on the full $8.375 million figure.

Allen said he has saved a lot of the money he has made as a professional football player. Therefore, if the Falcons decide to part ways, and if another opportunity isn’t as enticing, Allen has left open the possibility of retiring as a player and beginning his football coaching career.

A starting free safety for the Falcons, Allen has envisioned climbing the coaching ranks to become an offensive coordinator before becoming a coach in control of an entire program. Allen has previously stated his desire to coach offense since he understands where the weaknesses are on the defensive side of the ball.

“If that has to happen, I know I can go somewhere else and play,” Allen said. “I’m a good enough player to do that. But even if this league doesn’t want me no more then they’re going to have to coach against me. Hey, if they’re ready to get me on that other side and they’re ready to retire me out of here, sooner or later they’re going to have to coach against me. I’m ready for my opportunity. I’ve been blessed enough to be with this team for seven years now. I’m a smart player, I do pretty good with my money so I put myself in pretty good opportunities. I’m not afraid of the future ever.”

Allen was selected by the Falcons in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL draft. Initially waived and placed on the practice squad as a rookie cornerback on former coach Mike Smith’s team, he worked his way onto the 53-man roster and became a starter at safety under former coach Dan Quinn, who took the Falcons over in 2015. Allen became one of the leaders of the Falcons’ defense and was often praised by coaches and teammates for his cerebral approach to the game.

When linebacker Foye Oluokun was drafted in 2018, he immediately looked up to Allen as he saw how much he meant to the other players on the roster.

Atlanta Falcons free safety Ricardo Allen (37) intercepts a pass that was intended for Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Scott Miller (10) Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (Jason Behnken/AP)
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Atlanta Falcons free safety Ricardo Allen (37) intercepts a pass that was intended for Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Scott Miller (10) Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (Jason Behnken/AP)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

“He’s a guy I saw when I came in, he said he saw something in me,” Oluokun said. “Just him being a veteran that people look up to, I said, ‘I appreciate it, I’m going to keep working.’ I see his work ethic, his attention to detail, the way he studies and I definitely want to implement that because I want a long career too. He’s definitely a role model that anyone can look up to who wants to make it in this league.”

In his seven years with the Falcons, Allen has started 76 of the 77 games he’s appeared in. He recorded his 11th career interception in Sunday’s season finale against the Buccaneers, which came off a pass receiver Scotty Miller was unable to hold onto as he hit the Raymond James Stadium turf. The ball bounced in the air with Allen being in the right position at the right time.

Allen, who offered a strong endorsement of interim coach Raheem Morris for the full-time job, would love nothing more than to remain with the Falcons for at least another year.

Regardless, he’s at peace with any direction his future may take.

“Whatever comes, whoever comes, if they like me, I’m cool with that. I’ve had that before,” Allen said. “If they don’t like me, I’ve also had that before. It is what it is. I’m going to make the most out of this. I appreciated the people who have helped me along this journey so far. I hate saying it’s over but you just never know what happens after this. And I’m OK with it.”