Minnesota Vikings impending free agent defensive end Jared Allen is on his way out after several very successful seasons with the franchise, and the future Hall of Fame player is searching for a Super Bowl ring to put an exclamation mark on all his years of slamming quarterbacks to the turf. Allen could definitely be a real asset for a Super Bowl-winning team, and playing in a more limited role would help him reduce wear-and-tear and extend his career.
I decided to ask a question to two of our staff writers, “Should the New England Patriots sign Jared Allen?” and also wrote down my response. Our answers are below, and it’s certainly an interesting scenario to ponder.
The Patriots should absolutely sign Jared Allen.
While Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich make for a quality pair of defensive ends, unfortunately they are the only quality defensive ends on New England’s roster. Jones and Ninkovich led the NFL in defensive snaps in 2013 (per ProFootballFocus, subscription required), respectively, and it was obvious that they were worn down by the time the playoffs arrived.
Someone needs to be added to the rotation. That someone should be Allen.
While he may not be the 22-sack monster he was in 2011, Allen is still by all accounts an effective edge rusher (11.5 sacks in 2013) and a case could be made that he’d be more effective in a rotational role. He could use a breather himself–he was third in the league in defensive snaps (per ProFootballFocus).
Given his age–he’ll be 32 this April–and his declining production, Allen could be had at a reasonable price.
It helps that Allen’s former defensive line coach, Brendon Daly, is now part of New England’s coaching staff in a similar role. Bill Belichick and company will have intimate knowledge of the kind of player he is.
Allen recently told Bruce Murray and Rich Gannon of Sirius XM that choosing his next team will “come down to a chance to win, a good organization, as well as getting a fair contract.”
Having been in the last three AFC Championship games, the Patriots should be able to take care of the “chance to win” part. And as for the “fair contract”, I’m sure Belichick is much more willing to appease a “fair” contract request over a “huge” one. If they want him–which they should–they can get him.
The Pats should stay away from Allen. His career is winding down and I doubt he can contribute much. New England already has two solid starting defensive ends in Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones, so there’s no point in signing someone who would expect to be a starter.
Signing Allen for depth won’t work out; he’ll probably demand a substantial amount of money. I believe he’d want to be a starting defensive end rather than be a rotational end. For the Patriots, it’s not worth the investment. Chandler Jones is a future star and Rob Ninkovich is one of the most underrated players in the league. If the Patriots are to upgrade the defense through free agency, it should be a secondary player and not a front seven player.
I wouldn’t even think of signing Jared Allen if I was Robert Kraft or Bill Belichick.
Joe Soriano (me)
Jared Allen is willing to take less money to sign with a contender and high-level organization, so the New England Patriots definitely fit what he’s looking for. He would have to take less pay in order to sign with the Patriots, as they don’t have enough cap space and still need to either re-sign Aqib Talib or go after an equally talented player at cornerback. But the Patriots also need pass rushing help, as that was their biggest weakness last season. Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich form a good starting DE duo, but the Pats simply need better production out of their backups. Jones and Ninko are simply on the field too often, and it’s rare that they get breaks. Developmental guys like Michael Buchanan have promise, but a contender like the Patriots can’t trust them. It’s more important than ever to have a talented rotation of pass rushers, and the Patriots just don’t have that kind of a rotation right now; it’s something they need to seriously take a look at.
As long as he is affordable, Allen would be a very good option for the Patriots, and he can still get after the quarterback. He isn’t as good at putting pressure on the QB as he used to be, but he still racks up sacks, finishes plays, and is an above-average run defender. I think he would be an even more efficient pass rusher in a more situational role, and that’s exactly what he would do in New England behind Ninko and Jones. Those two need to be spelled on occasion by a player of some competence, and it’s clear that Allen is still a competent DE in this league.
The Patriots like to have a veteran pass rusher in their stable, otherwise they wouldn’t have picked up Andre Carter last season. Carter provided a spark with a few sacks, but he was definitely past his prime. Allen is too, but he is a much better player than Carter at this stage. Again, assuming the cost checks out, I don’t see any reason why the Patriots shouldn’t pursue Jared allen.