Is it really a 'legitimate possibility' that Jared Allen retires?
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Former Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen was asked in December about passing former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Thomas on the all-time sack list and his response was telling.
"Passing Derrick Thomas means everything," Allen said.
The week prior, Allen said reaching double-digit sacks for the seventh straight season meant "the world" to him.
As Allen, 32 in April, tests free agency for the first time in his career - he finds himself among one of seven Vikings' free agents that still haven't found a landing spot after one week on the market. He's recently visited with the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys, but both likely have to shuffle the deck to make room for Allen's demands. Allen's market only thinned when the Denver Broncos elected to sign DeMarcus Ware to a three-year, $30 million deal, the same terms Allen's camp reportedly pitched.
Allen has shown no rush to sign another deal, and as CBS' Jason La Canfora reported, if he can't land around $10 million per season - "it remains a legitimate possibility Allen retires."
I don't buy it.
It's not like football is life for Allen. He has a two-year-old daughter. He's been an advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, taken part in the NFL-USO tour to visit members of the U.S. military and has created his own charity: "Jared Allen's Homes 4 Wounded Warriors," which he has actively participated in between free agency visits.
There are many passions in Jared Allen's life -- and football, particularly his place in its history, is one of them. There are also many suitors that would welcome an experienced, proven pass rusher like Allen, but not at his current asking price.
Somewhere in the seven seasons and 85.5 sacks with the Vikings, Allen put up a list of the all-time sack leaders in his locker and where he was located. This is his first dive into free agency and Allen (through his agent) has made it clear he wants to command the financial respect of one of the NFL's top pass rushers, even at age 32.
The remaining pass rushers on the market include 32-year-old Shaun Phillips and 30-year-old Anthony Spencer. Neither have the pedigree of Allen, but neither command the price tag.
Maybe Allen can't find the money he wants immediately, "retires" and comes back on a lesser deal after teams go through some offseason workouts. Maybe a team bucks up and pays him what he wants or maybe he negotiates a back-loaded deal with a cash-strapped squad.
The Cowboys appear to be off the table after they signed DT Henry Melton on Tuesday.
Either way, something will take a hit -- either a team's salary cap or Allen's pride -- that will return him to the NFL and his quest for being one of the NFL's greatest pass rushers. I don't believe he's happy with being 12th on that list that he will likely hang in his next locker; a list that tells him he's just four sacks away from tying Giants' great Lawrence Taylor and nine away from reaching Vikings' legend John Randle.