Jared Allen will be a Minnesota Viking in spirit till the day he dies. He just won’t literally be a Minnesota Viking in 2014, probably.
Not that Jared wants to leave Minnesota – he loves Minnesota, don’t you know. It’s just that Jared is a realist. He knows the Vikings are probably not going to get a lot better real soon. And at 31, he’s beginning to hear that old clock ticking. The last thing Jared wants at his age is to be stuck on a team that’s once again rebuilding.
So with his contract expiring at the end of the season, Jared figures it’s in his best interests to look around.
“To be real honest, I’m going to have to look at the situation of the team,” Jared told Tom Pelissero. “If I continue to play, you want to try to win a championship at some point. Personal accolades can only go so far.”
There are examples of teams turning it around quick – the 2013 Chiefs leap to mind – but such fast rebounds usually only happen when a franchise has lots of talent already in place and just needs to find those last few ingredients.
The Vikings unfortunately are probably more than a few ingredients short of a winning recipe. They need a big talent upgrade at multiple positions on defense, especially in the linebacker corps and the secondary. They also need to take a huge step up at quarterback, and will likely have to make that happen via the draft, which basically equals pushing the reset button on the whole deal.
And of course there are probably big changes in store on the coaching staff. That part of it might be the dealbreaker for a guy like Allen. Yes Kansas City turned it around fast with the hiring of Andy Reid, but the Vikes likely are not in the market for a high-profile coach like that, who can install a system and get things reversed in a hurry.
Plus, like I said, the Vikings probably just don’t have the talent right now to make a fast comeback realistic. The only way to refill that talent pool quickly is by dipping into free agency and plucking multiple young, relatively inexpensive players.
There’s not a whole lot of room in that rebuilding plan for a guy who will be 32 next year and expects a big multi-year deal. The Vikings reportedly would like to have Jared back but they certainly will not pay him big money.
The writing is on the wall. But from Jared’s side at least, there’s no bitterness.
“Wherever I go, when I retire, I’m going to call [the Vikings] and say, ‘Hey, let me sign a one-day contract,'” Allen said, possibly wiping away a tear. “Minnesota will always be in my heart. But I don’t know what the future holds. We haven’t talked about it. I’m trying not to think about it.”