<
>

The case for a Jared Allen trade

MINNEAPOLIS -- It seemed likely at the beginning of this year that Jared Allen was in his final days with the Minnesota Vikings. The five-time Pro Bowler has said on multiple occasions that the team isn't working with his agent on a new contract, adding he planned to play out the final year of the $72 million contract the Vikings gave him when they sent two draft picks to the Kansas City Chiefs for Allen in 2008.

That would give Allen -- one of the most popular and productive players in Vikings history -- a proper chance to say goodbye to the team with which he will likely be most closely linked when he's done playing. A trade before Tuesday's 4 p.m. deadline would be a more abrupt parting. But if you strip the emotions away from it, and think about it like the Vikings' front office undoubtedly is thinking right now, moving Allen makes sense.

ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported on Tuesday afternoon the Vikings have had conversations with several teams about Allen, and ESPN NFL Insider Chris Mortensen added the Vikings were looking for a second- or third-round pick. But even if an Allen deal brought back only a midround selection, it would have other benefits for the Vikings.

It would give them back some cap space after they used most of their remaining room to sign Josh Freeman. It would allow them to give more playing time to Everson Griffen -- the defensive end who represents one of the Vikings' biggest free-agent decisions -- and see if he's worth counting on for the next few years, or if the Vikings should put South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney among the quarterbacks they will likely be considering with what could be a high-first-round pick in 2014. And another draft pick, paired with the third-rounder the Seattle Seahawks are already sending to Minnesota as part of the Percy Harvin trade, would give general manager Rick Spielman even more flexibility to address the other holes on the Vikings defense.

There are plenty of logistical issues to work through yet, particularly for teams like the Seahawks, who had talked with the Vikings about Allen, according to Schefter. Seattle is only about $2.6 million under the cap, and landing Allen -- who is still due more than $7 million of his $14.28 million base salary this season -- would require a new contract. Other suitors for Allen would definitely have to consider his contract situation as well, especially if the Vikings are asking for a valuable draft pick in return.

But Spielman has proved to be an aggressive deal-maker in the past, especially when he needs to get something done before a certain time, and the Harvin trade showed how good he can be at creating a market for a player the rest of the league knows the Vikings might move. As hard as it would be for the Vikings to part with Allen for sentimental reasons, there's good sense for a 1-6 team to send him to a contender and use what he could bring back in a trade to build for its future.