<
>

How safe is Dwayne Allen's roster spot with the Patriots?

play
Golic expects Edelman to 'vigorously' fight 4-game suspension (1:06)

Mike Golic finds Julian Edelman's PED violation interesting because the substance is unknown. (1:06)

Touching on some New England Patriots hot topics in mailbag form:

Dwayne Allen is currently projected as the team's No. 2 tight end behind Rob Gronkowski, and what makes Allen part of the roster-cut conversation is his $4.5 million base salary and $5 million cap charge. The question is whether that's too high for the Patriots for his projected role, which is primarily as a blocking tight end. I could envision a scenario in which the team approaches Allen about a possible reduction, and if they couldn't reach an agreement, perhaps they would move on. At the same time, it wouldn't shock me if Allen remained on the roster at his current salary because he is a strong locker room presence, hard worker and dominant blocker. So I don't think the salary is that far out of line, especially considering some of the recent deals around the NFL, such as tight end Trey Burton getting $8 million per season from the Bears. Also, one thing for the Patriots to consider: If they don't have Allen, who fills that void? Jacob Hollister is more of a pass-catcher than a dominant in-line blocker, although that part of his game is developing. I'd also consider Troy Niklas and Will Tye more as pass-catchers and "move" type of options than in-line blockers. And seventh-round pick Ryan Izzo and undrafted free agent Shane Wimann probably need more time to develop. So Allen's skill set is a bit unique, based on the personnel the Patriots have at the position.

Because of Julian Edelman's standing as Tom Brady's go-to-guy in the receiving corps, I wouldn't put this into the category of a one-for-one exchange. The Patriots will need a bunch of people at various positions to pick up the slack, and here is one example: If the team is without Edelman, it could alter the offensive approach at times, so instead of going to a three- or four-receiver package, maybe it's now two tight ends or two running backs on the field. That could mean that tight end Hollister, who appeared to have a solid spring, would be on the field more. Or maybe it's rookie running back Sony Michel paired with James White in a "pony" grouping. That's sort of the beauty of the Patriots' offensive system -- and overall player-development approach -- as it is quite adaptable. Specific to the receiving corps, I view Chris Hogan as the one roster lock, and he would probably be on the field more without Edelman. I'd also feel comfortable putting some stock in Jordan Matthews to emerge in some form, with Cordarrelle Patterson making the team as a kickoff returner and then seeing if he can break through on offense as more than a gadget option. That leaves Kenny Britt, Phillip Dorsett, Malcolm Mitchell, Riley McCarron, Cody Hollister and sixth-round pick Braxton Berrios as others who have a chance to make their mark.

It is always a challenge to project, but I'll go with an early "no" with Michel as the goal-line back. My thinking is based on two things: Rex Burkhead filled that role at times last year, so he'd be more likely to get the initial nod over Michel, who had 12 fumbles in college and might need to prove himself from a ball-security standpoint before the team gives him that responsibility. Also, Mike Gillislee and Jeremy Hill are other capable options to consider, as it was Gillislee who opened camp last year as the top guy before losing the spot about a quarter of the way through the season.

VACATION NOTE: With the next two weeks scheduled for vacation time, the next mailbag will be scheduled for mid-July.