Patriots: Top 5 free agents the team should try and retain
5. Ryan Allen
It might seem odd at first glance to find a specialist on this list – and a punter, no less. But Ryan Allen isn’t your ordinary special teams player; just as he isn’t your average punter, either.
Anyone who tuned into Super Bowl 53 probably got to see a lot more of Allen than they ever cared to. Of the 23 offensive series in the Super Bowl that didn’t include kneel-downs, a whopping 14 of them ended in punts (nine for the Rams, five for the Patriots). On those five Patriots punts, Allen managed to average 43 yards per kick, and he pinned the Rams within their own 10-yard line three out of five times.
In six seasons with the Patriots, Allen has never missed a game. He’s been blocked just twice in 409 career attempts, and both his gross and net yards per punt career averages (45.3 and 40.3, respectively) rank among the best marks in the NFL today.
Part of what makes Bill Belichick such a brilliant coach is his attention to detail. He’s famous for prioritizing special teams, when most other franchises consider the third phase of the game to be little more than an afterthought.
Why? Because Belichick understands that in “a game of inches,” seemingly innocent and inconsequential things like wind direction, receiver eligibility, and stadium roof mechanics could have massive and unforeseen consequences on the outcome of who ultimately wins and who loses.
That’s why he leaves nothing to chance, and why the Patriots shouldn’t leave anything to chance when it comes to re-signing their proven veteran punter. Starting drive position means everything in the NFL – particularly in today’s version where offenses arguably have the edge – so it’s never been more important to have a punter who can flip the field as needed.