Before Falcons free safety Ricardo Allen signed his restricted-free-agent tender Monday, he had never made a million dollars.
Now the Falcons’ free safety is making nearly three times that much, as the $2.914 million contract quadrupled Allen’s previous base salary of $615,000.
Allen is “feeling good” about his new contract, but he still hopes “the bigger one” comes soon.
In the meantime, he plans to remain focused on becoming “the No. 1 defense around.”
“We’ve made a big jump from (ranking) in the 30s two years ago to top 10 to No. 8,” he said Wednesday after Day 2 of minicamp. “To try to take another step and go for No. 1, I don’t think I’m throwing out any bad predictions, but I think we’ve got a pretty good team that can put some numbers up and make an improvement.”
The leap in defensive rankings comes after a period where Allen was a veteran trying to show newcomers the ropes. Now that his teammates have settled into their roles, Allen feels like he can focus more on himself and opposing offenses.
The Falcons continued to put in work to improve the defense during the offseason, specifically working on getting better angles during minicamp.
“We play so much zone coverage, and we found a way to use our partners and use the sidelines to make better and harder hits,” Allen said. “This camp really was really for us to test our angles, test our speed (and) push it as hard as we can, so we could know what someone’s weakness may be or what someone’s strength may be.”
Allen proved his strengths during a season on the practice squad, but he feels like his work hasn’t fully paid off just yet.
“If I could write a contract, I would’ve wrote that contract a long time ago,” he said when asked if he thought a long-term deal would come in the future. “I don’t control that.
“I control what I control, and I work on the field. I play with my boys, and that’s all I can do. If this is my last year, I’m going to do it to the best that I can do it.”
While there is no word yet whether this season will be Allen’s last with the Falcons, he maintains a positive outlook and looks forward to another season with the team.
“I’m grateful for what I have because I’ve played for less,” he said. “To be able to finally start to see it pay off and (to see) my team reward me, it just feels really good.
“If you had asked me this a while ago when I was cut from the practice squad, I never would have thought I would make it to this spot.”
Allen, who was drafted in the fifth round of the 2014 draft, started as a cornerback for the Mike Smith staff. He was converted to free safety under coach Dan Quinn in 2015 and became a mainstay on the defense.
“I always said I would, and I always worked to do it,” Allen said. “But to make it here it and to feel that I’m going to be one of the solidified safeties in the league and be one of the best safeties in the league is starting to feel good.”