The Philadelphia Eagles made the right call in 2016.
In 2016, the Philadelphia Eagles needed a guard.
After suffering through the uninspiring tandem of Allen Barbre and Matt Tobin sandwiched between Jason Peters and Lane Johnson during the final years of Chip Kelly’s failed dynasty, then-recently reinstated general manager Howie Roseman had money to burn and a new offensive identity to carter to. Exactly 12 months to the day removed from being forced to trade away all-time Eagle LeSean McCoy for yet another Oregon Duck, Roseman wanted his team to return to its roots; he wanted a stout offensive line and by extension, a thriving run game.
And for many fans in the 215, their preferred guard choice was obvious: 2012 second-round pick Jeff Allen.
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On paper, a potential pairing between the two parties made a ton of sense, as Allen had spent almost the entirety of his NFL career paired up with Doug Pederson in Kansas City and, by extension, knew the team’s new scheme intimately. Granted, Allen wasn’t your traditional ‘Eagles offensive lineman’ in that the Illinois-product’s athleticism was average at best, but after prioritizing speed over everything else during Kelly’s turbulent tenure, many fans were ready to return to employing quality football players over young men who once called Eugene, Oregon home.
But, as these things so often go, the Philadelphia Eagles didn’t do what their fans expected. Mind you, they still signed a guard to unseat Tobin on the right side, they kind of had to, but the player selected was much less of a household name to fans in the City of Brotherly Love: Brandon Brooks.
I know, right? Hindsight being what it is, it’s almost impossible to imagine the Eagles passing on Brooks for anyone other guard in the league, but on that fateful day in March, the deal was viewed by some as a reach. I mean, the Texans literally signed Allen to fill Brooks spot on their offensive line on the very same day and locked him up on a slightly shorter contract for slightly less money-per-year.
Think about it, Allen was drafted higher than Brooks in the 2012 NFL Draft and had experience in Pederson’s scheme. If Brooks was so much better than Allen, surely the Texans would have opted to retain their hometown product, right? You, my friend, are seriously overvaluing Bill O’Brien’s player evaluation skills.
Allen lasted all of two years with the Texans before being unceremoniously released with an injury settlement for no one in particular (Senio Kelemete and Zach Fulton) going into the 2018 season. He then signed a pair of one-year deals to return to the Cheifs in 2018 and 2019, but was ultimately released in October of 2019 in favor of our old friend Stefen Wisniewski and remains on the streets to this day.
In theory, I guess the Cheifs could bring him back for a third stint with the team if need be this fall, as they are relatively light at the position after Wisniewski signed with the Steelers this offseason, but it’s just as likely that Allen has played his final NFL snap without anyone really noticing and will transition to the next phase of his life as a Super Bowl champion.
Sidebar: I wonder if Jeff Allen received a Super Bowl ring after only appearing in four games for the Chiefs last fall. I’d assume so.
The process of player acquisition in the NFL is a crapshoot. The draft is inexact, free agency is the same, and even internal evaluations can be tricky, as evidenced by players like Javon Hargrave and Malcolm Jenkins signing with the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency. If a GM gets it right more than he gets it wrong, it can seriously tip the scales be the difference between a 7-9 season and a 13-3 trip to the Super Bowl. In March of 2016, Howie Roseman’s decision to sign Brandon Brooks over Jeff Allen wasn’t just right; it was a stroke of genius.