Jared Allen Brings Production To Bears, Opportunity to Vikings

Posted: 04/29/2014 in Player News, Team News, What's New
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Defensive end Jared Allen, who has played his last six years in a Minnesota Vikings uniform, will now be packing up his services and heading over to the division rival Chicago Bears. There is no way Matt Cassel is pleased with this transaction.

Allen has been downright unstoppable in his established ten year NFL career, falling below ten sacks in a season just twice, and one was his rookie year in Kansas City where he fell one sack shy of the mark with nine. He peaked in 2011, his age 29 season, bullying offensive tackles with his complete repertoire of moves and combined that with his freshly developed veteran awareness/experience. There has been very little falloff since then, tallying 23.5 sacks with 3 forced-fumbles and 69 tackles in the past two years.

Just when you thought he couldn’t sound like a better player to have on your team, he also never misses a game. With durability comparable to that of iron man legend Brett Favre, Jared Allen has never played less than 14 games in  a season in his entire career. That is production and reliability that NFL owners and coaches alike will salivate for.

But to be honest, there are reasons that the Minnesota Vikings did not bring him back. Reasons that go beyond the money issue. Because in the National Football League, if a team really wants someone, they will find a way to sign him. No excuses. At the same time no player is totally perfect, not even J.J. Watt despite popular opinion, and Jared Allen is no exception either. The Vikings, I’m pretty sure weren’t planning on J.A. landing nice and cozy with someone in the same division, but I don’t think they are fretting about anything just yet.

Reason number one for the Vikings letting Jared Allen go: The money. Money is always the elephant in the room in negotiations and has the biggest affect on everything. Jared Allen is a perennial pro bowler who demands (rightfully) a hefty paycheck for his work, and won’t come cheap for anybody. As long as he does what he does, his play will keep giving him all the leverage in contract talks. He’s the real deal and will be paid like it. He signed to the Bears for 3 year $24 million deal with $15.5 million of that fully guaranteed and paid in the first two years, according to profootballtalk.

The second factor: The fact that the Vikings defense was among the worst in the NFL with Jared Allen on their team. The Vikings finished dead last in points allowed (30 ppg.), 31st in yards allowed (397.6 ypg.) and 31st in passing yards allowed (287.2 ypg.). Now that Minnesota has fired their head coach Leslie Frazier and replaced him with former Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, and consequently named Norv Turner the new offensive coordinator, it looks like their overall team philosophy is in a state of flux and things are changing around their facility. The defense is changing too, and will surely resemble what Cincinnati’s ferocious style has looked like in past years. Jared Allen apparently wasn’t a part of their plans moving forward.

Wait, there’s even a third reason the Jared Allen isn’t wearing purple anymore: The Vikings have already found their replacement at defensive end. If you don’t recall the name Everson Griffen, that is ok because he isn’t a household name at the moment. But it might be time to start learning his name because he is a major breakout candidate in 2014.

Everson Griffen was given a lucrative 5 year $42.5 million deal with $20 million guaranteed after Allen was let go. They kept the money right there in the same position. Griffen has spent the past few years of his career as a rotational backup at defensive end. To his credit though, he has played the role quite well. With 13.5 sacks in the past two years he’s itching for more playing time. But the money he is getting is not backup money of any kind. Vikings owner Ziggy Wilf made a statement that they expect him to start. And not just be average either, he will be tasked to replace Jared Allen playing opposite of Brian Robinson. The Vikings went out and signed additional reinforcement on the defensive line with defensive end Corey Wootton to be a rotational player and the youngster Shariff Floyd will get first crack at the starting gig inside along with newly acquired defensive tackle Linval Joseph from the New York Giants. That is a youthful front four primed to do some serious damage to quarterbacks that dare drop back in the pocket.

So don’t worry Vikings fans, defensive guru Mike Zimmer is in charge now and he has a plan. He’s done admirable work with young “project” players in Cincinnati, like stud middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict, the latest pupil of his to reach star status after starting out not even being drafted. I believe Zimmer concluded he already has a pro bowl caliber defensive end on the roster without Jared Allen penciled in. They re-signed Matt Cassel so there is no pressure to take a quarterback in the top of round 1 in May’s draft. They have many holes to fill, but they accomplished fixing their leaky defensive line in the Free Agency period. Next, using the draft and their allotment of picks, they may take a hard look at their roof. The defensive backfield got a major boost with the signing of cornerbacks Captain Munnerlyn on a 3 year $11.5 million deal, one of the league’s best slot-corner defenders and starter Derek Cox on a bargain 1 year deal for less than $1 million to bounce back from a career-worst campaign last season in San Diego. But the safety position remains a mess. Other than the promising stud Harrison Smith returning from injury, the other safety spot and the overall depth is far from comforting in a prolific passing division.

The draft will be a perfect opportunity to fix that and also get a wide receiver for Cassel to throw to on third down. With a healthy Adrian “All Day” Peterson, Cordarrelle Patterson with a year of experience under his belt, a repaired and upgraded defensive line, a new coaching staff bringing a new philosophy and a new 17-week slate of games on the horizon it is hard not to get fired up for this Minnesota squad with something to prove this September.

Man, can the season just get here already?

 

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