To this point of the offseason, the Minnesota Vikings have elected to carry untouched the largest salary-cap hit for a non-quarterback in the NFL. Despite his cap charge of $17.063 million, defensive end Jared Allen told the Star Tribune recently that "we haven't talked one iota" about a contract extension that would lower that figure.
So what does that mean about Allen's future with the team? Based on what is known at the moment, it's not outlandish to suggest that the Vikings plan to part ways with Allen when his contract expires after the 2013 season.
Of course, the team could always initiate discussions later this summer or even during the season. Otherwise, the only explanation for not lowering Allen's cap number via an extension now is that they don't want to commit to future years with him.
We've noted several times how serious general manager Rick Spielman has been about maintaining a youthful roster. Allen turned 31 in April. He is only one year removed from a 22-sack season, but his sack total dropped to 12 in 2012 as he played with a torn labrum in his shoulder.
Since taking over as general manager in January 2012, Spielman has bid farewell to more than a half-dozen longtime veterans, including guard Steve Hutchinson, linebacker E.J. Henderson, cornerback Antoine Winfield, tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, place-kicker Ryan Longwell and punter Chris Kluwe. As of today, Allen is one of four players on the Vikings' 90-man roster who are older than 30.
Allen remains one of the NFL's most feared pass-rushers, and as we sit here today, it's hard to project he will be anywhere close to a steep decline after the 2013 season. But if given the choice, it sure appears that Spielman prefers to err on the side of parting ways too early than too late. If nothing else, he has protected that option with Allen to this point by choosing the cap number over an extension.
Only five players in the NFL have higher 2013 cap figures than Allen, and all of them are quarterbacks. The Vikings are managing at the moment because they have a quarterback (Christian Ponder) playing under the terms of a rookie contract. If you told me the Vikings' working plan is to get everything they can from Allen in 2013 and then move on, I wouldn't be stunned. I'm sure they haven't made a final decision, but I think we can say that the most obvious one remains very much in play.