As his rookie contract ended with the Chiefs, offensive lineman Jeff Allen preferred not to change his address.
“It was very hard,” Allen said. “This is where I wanted to stay, but it’s a business.”
Business took Allen to the Houston Texans, and after two years, he’s reunited with the team that drafted him.
Don’t look for Allen to start on Sunday Night Football against the Cincinnati Bengals. He’s only been back with the Chiefs for a couple of days and Friday was a no-pad workout. But Chiefs coach Andy Reid liked what he saw.
“For what I’ve seen, he looked good,” Reid said. “He got back in the swing. I don’t think he’s too far off from getting in there and rolling.”
The Chiefs are confronting injury issues along their offensive line. Guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff is lost for an extended period with a broken fibula and torn ankle ligaments. Center Mitch Morse left last weekend’s game at New England with concussion symptoms and he’s in the NFL’s concussion protocol, ruled out for Sunday’s game.
The Chiefs finished the Patriots game with Jordan Devey at center and Andrew Wylie at right guard, in his first extensive NFL playing time. But the production didn’t really drop off in the Chiefs’ 43-40 loss.
With Allen, the Chiefs have available a veteran who is familiar with the team and eager to contribute.
“My role is to do whatever I can, whatever they need me to do, whether it’s as a backup or a starter,” Allen said.
After starting for four seasons at Illinois, Allen was the Chiefs’ second-round selection in 2012, the final draft overseen by former general manager Scott Pioli. He became a starter in the Chiefs’ fourth game that season and held down the left guard spot for two years.
In 2014, Allen moved temporarily to right tackle, but his season ended in KC’s opening game with an elbow injury that required surgery. He missed the first month of the 2015 season with a training-camp knee injury, but when he got back in the lineup the Chiefs took off, winning their final 10 regular-season games and posting their only playoff win to date of the Reid era, at Houston.
Allen thought he’d remain in Kansas City, but he instead wound up signing with the Texans: a four-year, $28 million deal with $12 million guaranteed.
Over the past couple of years, Allen kept in touch with Chiefs friends like Morse and tackle Eric Fisher. Allen played with them and Duvernay-Tardif previously.
“All the guys,” Allen said. “I’d wish them luck. You’d see the improvement each year.”
In Houston, Allen made 26 starts over two seasons. He missed the final two games of 2017 with a concussion and had dealt with an ankle injury. He was placed on the physically unable to perform list in May. He and Houston then reached an injury settlement in July.
At that point, the search for a new destination commenced.
“I took time to get healthy,” Allen said. “Then the next thing was to find a team that was a good fit for me, where I had an opportunity to win, where I would be a success.”
Meanwhile, he embraced the job of stay-at-home-dad for his children, ages 4 and 2. “Kids need a lot of attention,” Allen said.
His search ended with the Chiefs.
“I’ve had success here,” Allen said. “I know the environment. I know the coaches. I love the culture.”
Sunday, for the first time since 2015, he’ll return to Arrowhead Stadium, a place he never wanted to leave.