The day the Indianapolis Colts selected Clemson tight end Dwayne Allen in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft, the tight end called Colts head coach Chuck Pagano to deliver a message: Allen promised to be the best tight end in Colts history.
That's a tall task, as the Colts have boasted the likes of Hall of Famer John Mackey, Marcus Pollard, and Dallas Clark at their tight end position, among others. But now with Dwayne Allen's new four-year contract, he's hoping to make good on that promise made to Chuck Pagano four years ago.
"This is where I wanted to be," Allen told Indianapolis media today. "I promised them on draft night, well excuse me the day after the draft, I called them back, called Coach Pagano back and promised him that I would be the best tight end in the Colts' franchise history. Of course that's a tall, tall order and through my first four years I was not able to come close to scratching that promise. With this deal and the next four years going forward, I'm going to have the opportunity to make good on that promise.
"I knew that the glimpses, which were glimpses because of my absence on the field due to injuries and other circumstances, I knew that even with those glimpses I was able to show enough flashes of the player that I can be. Going forward it's on me to make sure that number one I'm healthy and I'm on the field but number two also that I'm performing at a high level. Ryan Grigson and Coach Pagano have done a great job of putting together a coaching staff, a training staff and a weight room staff that are going to enable me to do that."
Allen's first four years with the Colts have been marked by injuries and inconsistency, as the Colts haven't always used the tight end as he would have liked. In 2015, for instance, Allen was targeted just 29 times in the passing game and caught just 16 passes - numbers he wasn't happy about. The next four years, hopefully, will be better.
"I did have the opportunity to speak with Offensive Coordinator Rob Chudzinski," Allen said. "He discussed my role going forward in the offense and me having the opportunity to play the tight end position. But again, the tight end position comes with a lot of different tasks. Some of it will include blocking premier pass rushers, but hopefully a lot of it will include me blocking for runs and helping to open up lanes for whoever is running the ball and also catching passes to convert first downs and touchdowns."
It's up to Chudzinski - a former tight ends coach - to ensure that Allen is used properly in the Colts' offense in order to maximize his skillset, and Allen was convinced enough that it will happen to re-sign with the Colts. He wanted to be back with the team all along, but he first wanted to make sure that the Colts wanted him back - something he wasn't sure of until just recently when the contract offer came in the past few days. For Allen, it wasn't as much the money as it was knowing the Colts had confidence in him - which was expressed strongly through the four-year, $29.4 million deal given to the tight end.
"The money itself wasn't the deciding factor, but their willingness to pay what they thought I deserved spoke volumes of their confidence in me and also their want to have me back with the team," Allen said. "At the end of the year, it was one of those feelings where we were losing, I wasn't being used and I felt like I was the only one who thought that was a problem. When you have that, it gives you the feeling that you are not wanted and that you don't belong. But of course with their offer they said otherwise."
Allen said that his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, talked to teams yesterday after the legal tampering period began, but since Allen wanted to be back in Indy and he was convinced the Colts wanted him back as well, that's why he re-signed with Indianapolis. Though he has a new deal now, Allen's not done working - he says he still has something to prove.
"Ever since joining this league I've had something to prove," Allen said. "Going forward, this contract, this deal changes nothing. My goal and what I told the coaching staff and Ryan Grigson last night is that I want to be the best. With this deal, it told me that, ‘Hey, we believe that you can be the best.' Having their confidence behind me, my chip on my shoulder and again, the great coaching staff, training staff and weight room staff that they have in place - it was a weight off my shoulders not having to go through free agency, but it definitely churned the fire in my belly to go out there and continue to grind and become the best that I possibly can and the best tight end in the National Football League."
Allen's goal, as he promised to Chuck Pagano four years ago, is to become the best tight end in Colts history. He still has a long way to go in order to be able to say that, but he's back with the Colts for four more seasons - the place he wanted to be and with a team that wanted him back.