It was not the ending Nick Allegretti wanted. Recall for a moment that Kansas City’s starting left guard was the second pick... of the seventh round in the 2019 NFL Draft, and it makes the Allegretti story all the more meaningful considering nothing was handed to the former Illini — every summer rep, every team meeting, every time he walked into the building, he was forced to prove that he belonged not just on this team, but in the NFL.
He’s an all-around good guy, and while not exactly a pre-requisite for maintaining a spot on a professional team’s roster, this type of stuff matters:
Nick Allegretti is ALWAYS there to pick up and running back or receiver after a play.— Joey Wagner (@mrwagner25) February 8, 2021
Super Bowl Sunday was not his best performance, nor the Chiefs’ best performance. Now it’s time to rest a bit, pick up the pieces, and begin preperations for the 2021 campaign.
215 players were picked before Nick Allegretti in 2019. How good he’s been in 2020 likely sets up the next few years nicely for the former Illini. Here’s how.
The Season That Was
Despite losing in the Super Bowl, for Allegretti, this 2020 season had to have felt good considering the amount of playing time and games started this season compared to last. In 19 games the Chiefs played — including the playoffs and Super Bowl — Allegretti started 12 of them. He was thrust into the starting lineup in Week 7 after a reshuffling of the O-line because of various injuries to guys like Mitchell Schwartz and Kelechi Osemele.
Back in November, Andy Reid — a coach who played offensive line himself and whose overall specialty in coaching is rooted in offensive line play — said this:
“He does it with a lot of energy, which we appreciate. He’s got a great attitude about him. He brings great energy to that group. He’s always hustling. He’s got that wrestler mentality that’s his background.” (2/3)— Tod Palmer (@todpalmer) November 16, 2020
He had three holding penalties and one false start in 694 snaps in 2020 (in all games not including the Super Bowl). That’s pretty good.
The Current Contract
Nick Allegretti just completed his second year of a 4-year, $2.631 million contract he signed in before his rookie campaign in 2019. He has two years left on that deal. He is set to earn $887,988 in 2021 and then $1,002,988 in 2022 before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2023.
For a player that can play three positions on the offensive line and has experience playing on special teams too, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better money value on the entire Chiefs roster than the Nick Allegretti contract.
In this upcoming NFL Draft, there is no doubt considering the injuries and overall aging of the Chiefs O-line that Kansas City will make that position a priority in their off-season evaluations. There’s a good chance Allegretti is competing for the starting center spot ahead of 2021, and the Chiefs organization can confidently draft a guard or tackle knowing that the former Illini very well might be a better center than he is a left or right guard in this league.
Big Nick Brings Value
Versatility is the name of the NFL game. Big Nick can play either guard spot or center — and he’s a solid piece for what the Chiefs are trying to do upfront.
In current Illini head coach Bret Bielema’s post-Signing Day press conference last week, the coach talked about what he’s learned as an NFL assistant coach the last three years, and how he tries to bring a similar approach into recruiting for the Illinois roster. To paraphrase, Bielema talks about value. It’s about how many different things a single individual can do well and can bring to a football team. As a result, coaches can get more out of every scholarship.
The salary cap in the NFL is similar in a sense that for the money/scholarship spent, you want to have players who are valuable by being versatile in their strengths so that they can perform given injuries to teammates, fluctuations in rosters, new contracts to new teammates in years following, etc.
Contextually, for how relatively little Nick Allegretti is being paid compared to what he can do on the field, while the Chiefs are simultaneously paying stars like Pat Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce — Allegretti is a bargain.
The best part is that with another strong or even better season in 2021 with Kansas City, Allegretti has ability to impress not just the Chiefs for a potential higher-paying contract extension, but perhaps another NFL team who sees even more value in him than the Chiefs do to ultimately pay him even more to leave.
Illini Nation is behind you and proud of you Champ! You’ll likely never have to pay for a beer in the C-U again!