- Terry Blount, ESPN Staff Writer
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It’s almost time to change all those gloomy free-agency grades on the Seahawks. Things are close to getting dramatically better. Seattle may become the best pass-rushing team in the NFL.
The Seahawks are on the verge of making a major free-agent acquisition by adding one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL in former Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, who is believed to be close to accepting Seattle's offer.
Allen, who turns 32 on April 3, had 11½ sacks in 2013 and ranks 12th in NFL history with 128½ sacks in his 10-year career, including seven consecutive years of double-digit sacks. By adding a star player like Allen, the Seahawks' defensive line arguably would be better than it was in 2013, despite losing three players off the line.
Defensive ends Red Bryant and Chris Clemons were released, and defensive tackle Clinton McDonald signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent. Those three players accounted for 11.5 regular-season sacks in 2013, so Allen, obviously, helps counter that loss.
Granted, he doesn’t answer what the Seahawks lose in run-stoppers with Bryant and McDonald, but they still have defensive tackles Brandon Mebane and Tony McDaniel, who was re-signed as a free agent. The Seahawks also have two rookie tackles for 2013 in Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams who they believe have bright futures.
By releasing Clemons and Bryant, the Seahawks saved $13 million in cap space, which is why they still had $15.2 million to spend for 2014.
And Seattle won’t have to break the bank to bring in Allen. He originally wanted a deal at $10 million a year, but quickly realized that wasn’t going to happen. Terms haven’t been announced, but he likely will sign for substantially less to come to Seattle.
The Seahawks are in a good position these days. Players want to come to Seattle, knowing they have a chance to win and play in an organization that has become the model franchise for how to treat people with Pete Carroll’s reputation as the consummate players coach.
Surely those things are on Allen’s mind in making his decision. He wants the chance to win a championship before he retires.
Allen also knows he won’t have to carry the whole load on a defense that was No. 1 in the NFL last season. He can be a situational pass-rusher and add to a mix that includes Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril, two men who totaled 16½ sacks last season.
Some will say that Allen is starting the downside of his career, but coming to a winning team where he won’t need to play 80 percent of the snaps likely will revitalize him.
The Seahawks' front seven on defense already was a scary sight for any quarterback. With Allen in the mix, it will become downright frightening, and probably unstoppable.
Along with that, this signing would silence some of the critics who thought the Seahawks were headed down the same road as other Super Bowl-winning teams by losing far more than they gained.
Other than wide receiver Golden Tate, Seattle kept the players they really wanted to keep, like Bennett, McDaniel and kicker Steven Hauschka. And they’ve done it with the thought of looking ahead to upcoming big-money deals for free safety Earl Thomas, cornerback Richard Sherman and quarterback Russell Wilson.
Now they are likely to add one of the premier pass-rushers in the NFL in Allen. If he signs on the dotted line, you might want to change that 2014 free-agency grade to an A, or at least a B-plus.