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NFL free agent profile: Defensive lineman Zach Allen

The Cardinals defensive lineman is coming off a career year and could follow his former defensive coordinator to Denver.

Los Angeles Chargers v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

With defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones expected to test the free agent market, the Broncos might be in the market for a defensive lineman in free agency. Potentially losing Jones to free agency would leave the Broncos rather thin at the defensive lineman position. Also, with the lack of draft picks in the first and second rounds of the NFL draft, they will need to address this position during free agency. One player who may interest them and has a history with newly hired defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, is Cardinals defensive lineman, Zach Allen.

Player Profile

Height: 6’5”

Weight: 285 pounds

Age: 25 years old

Experience: Four NFL seasons, all with the Arizona Cardinals

After having a successful career at Boston College, Zach Allen entered the 2019 NFL Draft. He was an intriguing prospect who was viewed as a tweener coming out and that had him fall into the third round where the Arizona Cardinals selected him with the 65th overall selection. In the early part of his career, he did not do much, but he really turned it on these past two seasons under Vance Joseph. In these past two seasons, Allen started 27 games for the Cardinals in that span and totaled 95 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 12 pass deflections, 34 quarterback hits, and 15 tackles for a loss. This past season for the Cardinals, he totaled 47 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 10 tackles for a loss, 20 quarterback hits, and 8 pass deflections. Everything but the tackle total was a career-high for Allen this past year.

Why it makes sense

With Dre’Mont Jones testing the market and potentially leaving the Broncos during free agency, the Broncos could be in the market for a defensive lineman. If so, I think former Cardinals defensive lineman Zach Allen would be a great fit.

First, he has played his entire NFL career with Vance Joseph as his defensive coordinator, and during the past two seasons, has had two breakout years for him. So, it would make sense that there would be some potential mutual interest between both sides. He would know Joseph’s system while also filling a need and role potentially vacated by Dre’Mont Jones as the interior pass rusher.

He is also an ascending player who is entering the prime of his career. He is only 25 years old(will turn 26 in August) and likely has his best football ahead of him. If the Broncos can capitalize on that potential and continue to get the most out of him, they could have a solid potential replacement for Dre’Mont Jones.

Also, the cost to acquire him should not be all that expensive, especially compared to the cost of a Dre’Mont Jones. I do not think he will get more than $10 to $12 million dollars per year (my guess) which is potentially half of what Jones may get on the open market.’s top 101 NFL free agent list has Allen ranked as their 14th-best free agent, one spot behind Dre’Mont Jones.

Allen just kept getting better and better in his fourth NFL season, graduating from a solid starter to one of the Cardinals’ best players. Few players made themselves more money in 2022.

You can never have enough pass rushers and if Dre’Mont Jones is out the door, it would make sense to bring in Zach Allen.

Why it does not make sense

If the Broncos do end up re-signing Dre’Mont Jones, they would likely not pursue Zach Allen or any other potentially high-priced free-agent defensive lineman. We shall see if that happens, but if it did, that would end any potential Zach Allen fit with the Broncos.

Another thing that could potentially stop this from happening is cost. Allen is an interior pass rusher in a free agent class that does not really have much in that department. That could raise his price tag from one of those cost-effective guys that you target to potentially into a guy that gets paid more than you expect.

Final Thoughts

Allen was already on my radar as a potential Dre’Mont Jones replacement, but the Vance Joseph hiring really elevated him for me. Connections matter in the NFL and if Allen enjoyed his time with Joseph, who players seem to enjoy playing for, he potentially could follow his former coach to the Broncos. On the flip side, Joseph is probably recommending the Broncos target Allen as well. He is coming off a career year and could continue to flourish under Joseph’s coaching.

All this depends on what happens with Dre’Mont Jones. I personally think if he enters the open market, he won’t be back with the Broncos. A team with money to spend like the Bears could easily outbid the Broncos for his services. So, I think Allen would be a nice cost-effective replacement for him.

There is a chance Allen could make more than we assume as well, so that could throw a wrench into this plan, so we shall see how it plays out.

At the end of the day, I think Allen is an ascending player who is entering the prime of his career. That Cardinals defense lacked supporting talent around him so I think he would benefit from playing next to the Broncos pass rushing unit and with Patrick Surtain, Justin Simmons and the Broncos strong secondary.