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Vikings go all-in on Allen

Team trades for DE, makes him highest-paid defensive player in NFL

By Judd Zulgad

Star Tribune

Patience appears to have paid off for the Vikings in their search for a defensive end.

Unsuccessful in landing an edge pass-rusher early in free agency, Minnesota acquired one of the best in the business at an extremely steep price Tuesday night when it agreed to terms on a trade with Kansas City for Jared Allen.

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Allen, according to the Fox Sports Web site, will become the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history. His new contract will be for six years and just shy of $74 million. Allen told Fox this includes $31,000,069 guaranteed. Allen’s jersey number is 69.

Allen, who led the NFL with 15.5 sacks last season and was selected to the Pro Bowl, will cost the Vikings on more than one front.

Kansas City will get the Vikings’ first-round pick and both of their third-round selections (No. 73 and No. 82) in this weekend’s NFL draft, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The teams also are expected to swap sixth-round picks

Allen was expected to return to the Twin Cities on Tuesday and the deal will be finalized on Wednesday.

The trade does not come without an element of risk for the Vikings.

Allen, 26, was suspended for the first four games of 2007 after being arrested twice for drunken driving the previous year. That suspension was later reduced to two games and Allen has said in interviews that he no longer drinks alcohol. If Allen has another offense, however, he would be subject to a lengthy suspension by the NFL.

Vikings coach Brad Childress said Friday the team has done a significant amount of checking into Allen’s background. Childress called Allen a "high-energy guy," who is not "just a designated pass rusher" and is very good against the run.

The Vikings and Allen each came away impressed after meeting last Friday and Saturday at the Vikings’ Winter Park facility.

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Allen’s agent, Ken Harris, also was present for the talks and it was believed a basic contract agreement was reached at that time.

The sticking point was Kansas City and Chiefs President Carl Peterson.

The Chiefs had designated Allen as their franchise player — that tag would have earned him $8.8 million next season, the average salary of the NFL’s five highest-paid defensive ends — but Allen wanted to leave Kansas City and was allowed to talk to other teams.

Tampa Bay, Philadelphia and Jacksonville also expressed interest but the Vikings appeared to be the best fit.

The Vikings initially offered their first- and the first of their two third-round picks, but Peterson wanted at least one more selection.

The Vikings could have signed Allen to an offer sheet, but the Chiefs would have had the right to match or been entitled to two first-round draft picks.

Working out a trade was Minnesota’s desire throughout this process.

Defensive end has been considered the Vikings’ biggest area of need this offseason. Erasmus James, a first-round pick in 2005, has been slowed the past two seasons by knee injuries and it’s uncertain exactly when he will be ready to go in 2008.

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Starting right end Kenechi Udeze, meanwhile, was diagnosed with leukemia in February and is expected to sit out the coming season.

The Vikings had hoped to sign an end in free agency but their top choice, Justin Smith, ended up joining San Francisco. Antwan Odom jumped from Tennessee to Cincinnati and Jevon Kearse decided to return to the Titans rather than visit with the Vikings.

This move likely will make the Vikings the trendy pick in the NFC North.

"The Vikings have a pretty darn good defense already and could be dominating with a guy like him," former NFL coach and NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci said earlier Tuesday. "He is young and the prime of his career is ahead of him."

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