Jared Allen brings excitement and championship hopes to Vikings
By Kevin Seifert
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Jared Allen barely had two feet inside Winter Park last week when he first heard that word.
"That’s what was so attractive about (the Vikings)," Allen said. "It wasn’t like, ‘We’re on the brink, and we’ll get a couple of players here and there, and maybe next year.’ No, it’s now. We want to win championships now, and that attitude to me is so attractive."
Rambunctious and entertaining during his introductory news conference, Allen paused before blurting out: "I’m getting all excited."
Big money for big player
It helped that the Vikings were willing to give him a historic six-year, $74 million contract. But Allen, who led the NFL with 151⁄2 sacks last season, said the Vikings convinced him they would stop at nothing to build a team to compete for a Super Bowl title this season.
"I love football," Allen said, "and the biggest and the greatest honor in the world would be to be able to hang a banner up saying ‘World Champions’ and being a part of that."
Allen’s arrival marks the end of an aggressive free agent period in which the Vikings added 12 players at an expense of $65 million in guaranteed money alone. Previously mired in what appeared to be a long-term rebuilding project, the Vikings have established themselves as an early favorite to win the NFC North.
They hope to contend with what figures to be one of the NFL’s five-highest payrolls. Allen’s deal was the biggest in Vikings history and called for the fourth-highest total of guaranteed money — $31,000,069 — in NFL history. The Vikings also sent Kansas City three draft choices and swapped positions for a fourth.
"It was a unique situation," said Rick Spielman, vice president of player personnel. "You don’t often get an opportunity to get a player of his caliber at his age."
A long process
According to Spielman, the Vikings began their pursuit of Allen shortly after the free agent market opened Feb. 29. The Chiefs had placed the franchise tag on him, meaning any team that wanted to sign Allen would also have to issue draft-choice compensation as well.
Talks were sporadic until April 16, when the Chiefs indicated they were interested in making a deal before this weekend’s draft. Armed with four picks in the first three rounds, the Vikings jumped.
They were convinced, Spielman said, that the draft’s top pass rushers would be off the board at their first-round position, the No. 17 overall pick.
Trading up into the top 10 would have cost the Vikings’ a first-round pick and both of their thirds, Spielman theorized. Even moving up five slots would have required the first-round pick and one of the picks in the third round.
The Vikings also agreed to swap sixth-round picks with the Chiefs, sliding back five spots.
"To try to seal the deal," Spielman said.
That final concession brought the sides to an agreement Tuesday, and Allen signed at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
The Vikings plan to start Allen at right end. Although enamored with his pass-rushing skills, Childress is also appreciative that Allen does not need protection against the run.
"His numbers say he led the NFL in sacks, but he loves to play the run and play it aggressively," Childress said. "So he is not a guy that you can play only for a third down. He can play every down, so I feel like I got the best defensive-end-pass rusher-that-plays-the-run combination there is."