July 31, 2014
ORLANDO, Fla. — Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy didn’t know that the Bears had reached a deal with defensive end Jared Allen when he strolled through the hallways of the hotel after the NFL owners meetings concluded.
But he knows what his most formidable rival in the NFC North just added.
“A damn good football player,” McCarthy told the Sun-Times. “It’s a great pickup for the Bears.”
Allen’s four-year deal with the Bears came together over the last few days as general manager Phil Emery and chief negotiator Cliff Stein worked on it through the owners meetings.
Regardless of restructuring quarterback Jay Cutler’s deal, the Bears had set aside a budget for another significant addition. Allen’s deal is worth $32 million, including $15.5 million guaranteed.
Plenty of aspects about the Bears appealed to Allen: Cutler’s abilities; his wife is from Chicago; and it’s still the NFC North. He will undergo a physical at Halas Hall on Monday and a press conference is scheduled for later that day.
“You can’t have enough playmakers and he’s been a great one for a number of years,” Bears president Ted Phillips said.
“We’re excited to have him in Chicago,” Bears chairman George McCaskey added. “Getting somebody of Jared’s talents is a big move.”
His talents are obvious. Allen harasses quarterbacks at an exceptional level. He’s 31, but still remains very productive and very durable, starting every game over his last six years in Minnesota.
Allen had 11.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss last season. He leads the NFL in sacks with 128.5 since entering the league in 2004.
“I’m a fan of Jared’s and just the way he plays,” McCarthy said. “He’s always been a force for the Vikings. We’ve had some tough battles against him.”
Allen is an immediate upgrade for a defense that was last in sacks in 2013. He also helps make up for the departures of defensive tackle Henry Melton (Cowboys) and defensive end Julius Peppers (Packers).
Allen is expected to start opposite defensive end Lamarr Houston with Willie Young now in a backup, rotational role.
Trestman praised Allen’s durability and dependability.
“Certainly, those are big to consistently playing at a high level,” Trestman told the Sun-Times in Orlando. “He has all the trademarks. And of course, his love of the game. When you watch him play, you’re saying to yourself, ‘This man loves playing football,’ and he’s been doing it for a very long time at a high level. Phil, our personnel people and our coaches all feel that’s he’s got a lot left, and we believe we’re getting him at a great time.”
Adding Allen, who racked up 85.5 sacks over his six years with the Vikings, should definitely put a smirk on Cutler’s face. Trestman appreciates not having to scheme against him anymore.
“Every defense has a difference-maker or has a guy who can disrupt the game,” Trestman said. “And certainly when you play against Jared, you have to make sure you have the proper protection plan. You’re focused during the week on making sure that you’re doing the best you can in preventing him from getting to the passer. That’s what difference-makers do.”