Veteran safety Nate Allen played but a few games for the Raiders last season. Knee injuries saw to that.
Those cameos, it turns out, mark his only time in silver and black. The Raiders released Allen on Tuesday afternoon, a day before his 2016 base salary became fully guaranteed.
Allen was slated to make $4.9 million and a $100,000 workout bonus. The Raiders will save $5 million in salary cap space.
Allen’s release doesn’t come with any dead money due to the structure of four-year contract signed last offseason worth a maximum of $23 million that was essentially a pay-as-you-go deal after the first season. The 28-year old was given a $4 million roster bonus in 2015 that, when paired with a $2.9 million base salary and a workout bonus, paid him $7 million last season.
He earned that sum playing just five games with three starts. He had 11 tackles and one interception in that span. Allen had a strong preseason, but tore his left MCL when then-Raiders linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong barreled into him wildly trying to make a tackle. He was placed on short-term injured reserve, and played a few more times before another knee injury put him back on the shelf. Allen did not return.
Cornerback TJ Carrie filled in for Allen opposite veteran Charles Woodson. While the Raiders are expected to use draft picks and free-agent dollars overhauling the secondary, it’s entirely possible Carrie could end up as a safety option next season.
Woodson has retired, Carrie’s position remains in flux and DJ Hayden has generally proved ineffective, meaning David Amerson seems to be the only set member of the Raiders secondary.
That isn’t a bad thing. The pass defense generally struggled during the 2016 season, improving only when the Raiders pass rush kicked into high gear late in the season.
Allen’s original Raiders contract was met with skepticism, a sum seemingly worth more than his production during five seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Raiders’ recent trend of paying up front for financial flexibility on the back end of contracts helps them make moves like this.
It’s possible Allen’s release isn’t the last veteran purge of the offseason. It’s difficult to see linebacker Curtis Lofton or running back Roy Helu Jr. sticking with the Raiders next season.
Allen was disappointed injury robbed his ability to make an immediate impact for his new team.
“It’s part of the game, but it was a trying season for me,” Allen said after the season ended. “It was tough. It was the most games I’ve ever missed. It was tougher mentally for anything else that I wasn’t able to be out there, helping my team.”