The Chicago Bears have recently been clearing some salary cap space with the release of wide receivers Earl Bennett and Eric Weems, as well as restructuring the deal of Jay Cutler, but no one could have expected the reason they were doing so.
That reason turned out to be signing defensive end Jared Allen, who the team inked to a 4-year deal Wednesday morning. Allen, who has played in 10 NFL seasons, including six with the Minnesota Vikings, reportedly had drawn massive interest from teams like the Seattle Seahawks and Oakland Raiders, but the Bears were able to snag him to bolster their already restructured corps of defensive ends.
The move does come at a high price, as it eats up a large chunk of the $11 million in cap space created by roster cuts and the restructuring of Cutler's 7-year deal that he signed back in January:
Jared Allen deal is $32m over 4 years but voids down to a $24m deal over 3 with $15.5m guaranteed, per source.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 26, 2014
Allen picked up 11.5 sacks in the 2013 season for the Vikings, and also had 13 tackles for loss and 52 tackles and six pass deflections on the campaign. He has started all 16 season games in each of the past six seasons, and he leads the NFL in sacks since the 2004 season, compiling 128.5 over that span.
Allen issued a statement later on Wednesday thanking the fans of the Vikings for making his six-year stay in the Twin Cities memorable:
"I'd like to take a moment to thank my former teammates, coaches, and the staff at the Minnesota Vikings for all of their inspiring work and dedication. Perhaps more importantly I would like to thank the fans and the Minnesota community. I can only hope that I have left with you all with even a fraction of the positive support and the impact you have had on my life, my foundation, and my family. I am very excited about this next chapter in my career with the Chicago Bears and can't wait to see what the future holds for us. God bless."
The Bears' defensive line is going to have a completely different look going into 2014 than it did last season, when they struggled to get pressure on the quarterback and showed a complete inability to stop the run. Allen will be joined at the end spot by Lamarr Houston, whom the Bears signed on the first day of free agency. Several other players, including Willie Young and Israel Idonije, will provide more help off the end.
Houston and Young have both been known as run stoppers, so you can expect to see them play together in third-and-short situations. Meanwhile, Allen will be used on most downs because of his speed and ability to not only draw double teams (thereby setting up one-on-one matchups on the other side of the line), but also to get through single coverage with relative ease.