MINNEAPOLIS -- If Sunday was Jared Allen's final game in a Minnesota Vikings uniform, he did all he could to make it memorable. He sacked Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford twice in a 14-13 victory, ensuring he'd finish the year with double-digit sacks for the seventh consecutive year. He lined up at tight end, nearly catching his third touchdown pass in the NFL, and left the offensive formation to a standing ovation after the pass bounced off his hands.
"I did it a couple times in Kansas City," Allen said. "I mean, those kinds of stats? Tony Gonzalez, watch out."
What remains to be seen is whether Allen will have a chance to come back to Minnesota next year. At this point, it seems unlikely, with Allen scheduled to hit free agency just before his 32nd birthday. He made more than $17 million this season, and the Vikings gave a contract extension to Brian Robison earlier this season. Allen had not talked about a new deal with the Vikings before this year, and declined to talk about whether his agent had discussed a new contract with the team during the season.
"The conversations we've had are between us and I'd like to keep it that way," he said. "I've always told you guys that I've always been on the same page as them. There's no rug that is going to be pulled out from underneath anybody. I am not naive to the business side, and neither are they. The relationships here with the management and the coaches have been nothing but great. It will be a conversation about where they are going and where I see myself going. If it's on the same path, great, but if not, we will part ways, but we'll do it with the best intentions for everybody."
The Vikings' current personnel would seem to make it unlikely they'd pursue a coach with a 3-4 scheme, but even if their 4-3 defense comes back, it's hard to see Allen fitting into the plans of a team that's been trying to get younger. If Sunday was indeed his last game with the Vikings, he'll depart as one of the most popular players in team history.
"However it falls, I know the last six years have been amazing," he said. "I could not have asked for more from this organization, and I could not have asked for more from this state. When I came here when I was 25, compared to how I am now, has been life-changing. Since then, I've met my wife, I got married and now I have a daughter. It has just been an absolute blessing.
"I'll take some time to reflect. This isn't just a one-sided decision, so we will see. I will have this conversation with everybody and we'll see where it goes. However it works out, it will work out the way it's supposed to."