Jared Allen heading to Bears
Jared Allen has a new home, and the defensive end will continue to chase many of the same quarterbacks he's pursued for the past six years.
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The Chicago Bears agreed to terms with Allen on a four-year deal, the team announced Wednesday. Allen told ESPN NFL Insider Ed Werder in a text that "the Bears came in last minute and everything worked out."
Allen also released a statement Wednesday, thanking the Minnesota Vikings and addressing his future in Chicago.
"I'd like to take a moment to thank my former teammates, coaches and the staff at the Minnesota Vikings for all of their inspiring work and dedication," Allen said. "Perhaps more importantly I would like to thank the fans and the Minnesota community. I can only hope that I have left with you all, with even a fraction of the positive support and impact you have had on my life, my foundation and my family.
"I am very excited about this next chapter in my career with the Chicago Bears and can't wait to see what the future holds for us. God bless."
Allen's deal could be worth up to $32 million, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. It includes $15.5 million in guaranteed money and could void after three years and $24 million.
"We're really excited about adding Jared to our football team," Bears coach Marc Trestman told the team's website. "We know what his abilities bring to the table. We believe he's going to come in hungry and excited to be part of our football team, and we believe he'll fit right in."
The Bears recently cleared $4 million in cap space by restructuring quarterback Jay Cutler's contract, according to multiple reports. The Bears converted $5 million of his base salary into a signing bonus and prorated that over five years, the reports said.
Allen An Upgrade Over Peppers
The Bears got Jared Allen to replace Julius Peppers, who joined the Packers after his exit from Chicago. A comparison of the defensive ends over the past four years (when Peppers joined the Bears):
|-- ESPN Stats & Information|
Allen has 128.5 career sacks, 12th most in NFL history. He has seven consecutive double-digit-sack seasons, including 11.5 last season with Minnesota -- where he made his mark after the Vikings traded for him in 2008.
"One of the things that Marc said when he became our head coach, the key to success is protecting your own quarterback and making the opponent's quarterback uncomfortable," Bears chairman George McCaskey said from the NFL owners meetings in Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday. "That's very important to us. Got to get the pass rush going. That will help the defense overall."
The defensive end became one of the most prolific and popular players in Vikings history, coming within a half-sack of Michael Strahan's season record of 22.5 in 2011 and making the Pro Bowl four times in his six years with the Vikings.
Allen's animated on-the-field persona, his durability and his charity work made him a hit with fans in Minnesota, and when the Vikings called to talk Brett Favre into playing a second year for them in 2010, Allen was one of three players who got on a plane to Hattiesburg, Miss., to help bring the quarterback to the Twin Cities.
"We wish Jared the best as he turns to the next chapter of his NFL career," Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said in a statement. "Not only was he an outstanding player on the field for the Vikings over his six seasons, but he also helped change lives in our community through his charitable work. Jared will always be a fan favorite, and we hope he stays involved with the Vikings franchise in years to come."
Now Vikings fans will see what it's like to watch Allen play for another team in the NFC North.
"We are extremely happy for Jared, his wife, Amy, our fans and the Chicago Bears that Jared has agreed to terms and will be joining the Bears family," general manager Phil Emery said. "This is another important step in our continued efforts to build our team towards a championship level."
SportsNation: Bears sign Jared Allen
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Allen also had visited the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks during free agency and had toyed with the idea of retiring. He had said toward the end of the 2013 season that he'd stop playing before he'd accept a role as a situational pass-rusher.
But as he replaces the recently released Julius Peppers in Chicago, it seems Allen will have a chance to continue getting a heavy share of playing time -- after playing 93 percent of the Vikings' snaps from 2008 to 2013 -- and securing his spot on the all-time sacks list.
Allen needs 4.5 sacks to move into sole possession of 10th place, and he could climb to as high as fifth next season and pass Strahan if he's able to record 13.5 sacks.
He needs 72.5 sacks to tie Bruce Smith for the career record, but considering he hasn't been below 10 sacks in a season since 2006, he has a chance to significantly add to his numbers.
The Bears will introduce Allen on Monday.
ESPN.com Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley contributed to this report.