Jared Allen Signs With the Chicago Bears, is (Temporarily) Dead to Me

Someone named Jared Allen signed with the Chicago Bears today to a four-year deal, worth $32,000,000. The structure of the deal is of course important with a player at Allen’s age (31), and it can be voided to a three-year, $24,000,000 deal. $15,500,000 is fully guaranteed—which comes from a base salary guaranteed fully in the first two years and a roster bonus he will receive next March.

On a per-year basis, this is a lower deal than the one he “missed out on” with the Denver Broncos when they offered him and DeMarcus Ware identical, $30,000,000 deals over three years, but it is similar amount of guaranteed money.

This of course means that Allen will play against the Vikings twice a year, an interesting set of circumstances that sees him paired up against his practice sparring partner, Matt Kalil.

This could also imply that Allen’s desire to play was balanced against his desire to go to a contender, as he had choice offers from the Seattle Seahawks and the Dallas Cowboys as well, the first of whom could give him a much better shot at a ring, but less playing time. The Cowboys, short on cap space, were likely in a much more difficult spot in terms of the type of contract they could offer him and the flexibility they had to give him a good deal.

For what it’s worth, the Bears also likely are a better team than the Cowboys, but are also probably less likely to make the playoffs given the strength of their division.

He is five career sacks behind the 36-year-old Johnathan Abraham, currently the active sack leader in the NFL, with 128.5 and has averaged 14.3 sacks a season with Minnesota (and 13.1 sacks a season if you drop his best and worst sack seasons).

Barring an injury, it’s almost guaranteed that Allen will surpass Abraham as the active sacks leader in the next year or two. He is 8.5 sacks ahead of Julius Peppers (who recently signed with the Packers in your new NFC North) and 10.5 sacks ahead of DeMarcus Ware. With all that in mind, it would be a surprise if he didn’t retire as the active sack leader in the NFL.

Allen has been declining, but probably not nearly as sharply as many Vikings fans like to say, and certainly not to the degree Julius Peppers has. If you look at a moving average of his per-game PFF scores as a reasonable approximation of his performance, there’s a decline, but not one that should let Vikings fans cheer in glee:

Jared Allen PFF Grade By Game

That isn’t the end-all, be-all of performance (I don’t consider his 2013 season as ultimately too far below average), but it does indicate that Allen perhaps peaked as an all-around defender in 2010 and 2011 and has been struggling to regain form. Then again, at the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010, he had experienced a much sharper decline in performance and regained it.

The fact that the Bears have decided to retain defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, who had a terrible year coordinating the Bears defense last year and has a poor track record in general (his defenses have ranked 16th, 24th, 27th, 29th and 30th in points allowed, in that order) should at least soften the blow, as I’m not sure he can inspire the kind of turnaround that Leslie Frazier did at the beginning of the 2010 season.

The Vikings will not be expected to get more than a fifth-round compensatory pick for Jared Allen, should they get any after the free agency period (Linval Joseph may cancel it out).

I wrote this back when I thought he was going to sign for the Seahawks:

In particular, Allen’s contributions as a “clutch” defender should not be forgotten. The Vikings played defense on first down 44.9% of the time, second down 33.7% of the time and third down 21.4% of the time over the course of Allen’s career, but 40% of his tackles and nearly a third of his sacks came on third down. Some of this has to do with sample bias (teams are more likely to run short instead of pass long on third down than first or second down), but some of it speaks to the shrewdness with which Allen would play.

Allen played for the Vikings with a nonstop motor, a savvy head for situational play, incredible technique and surprising power. As much as it was time for him to go, he will be missed.

But really, the dude is temporarily dead to me for playing for the Bears. So I’ll remember his best plays fondly and hope that Matt Kalil pancakes him at every opportunity.

It’s a weird image.

Jared Allen in his natural habitat

When he retires, I’ll proudly cheer him on during his Hall-of-Fame recognition speech and any appearances he’ll make in the new stadium as a former Viking, especially when they eventually induct him into the ring of honor. But for now, he’s an over-the-hill lineman who came cheaper than expected but is still overpaid. Unless they have him play quarterback when Griffen inevitably injures Cutler.

It’s an improvement