This recent era of Chicago Bears off-seasons, highlighted by trades and signings that have brought the likes of Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Martellus Bennett and Jermon Bushrod, have shown that the franchise knows how to open up a signing period.
The quick acquisitions of Lamarr Houston and company this year further proved that, but the news Wednesday of Chicago’s signing of multi-time All-Pro Jared Allen proved that the team knows how to close as well.
A two-time League sack leader in 2007 and 2011, Allen made himself known rushing the Bears’ backfield and many others as one of the best defensive ends of this era in football, making more sacks (128.5) than any player in the NFL since he became a pro in 2004.
In his first go-round as a free agent, Allen chose to come to Chicago after being offered a four-year deal that will net him at least $15.5 million dollars over the next two years. Allen spurred the advances of the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks in the process, late last week it looked all but certain that Allen was heading to the Pacific Northwest and then there were reports that he may even retire. Allen is getting ready to turn 32 next week and he will still be two years younger than Julius Peppers, who by all means he is replacing (sorry Lamarr, still a good look though).
Speaking of Peppers — with his signing in Green Bay and the Vikings’ signing of former Bear Corey Wooten last week, the most interesting passive-aggressive three-team trade in NFL history has been completed. It’ll be interesting to see how all three defensive linemen mesh with their respective teams and how they play each time against their former teams in what will be a reunion merry-go-round in the NFC North this year.
Here’s five quotes which basically tell the story of the big Allen deal from different angles, provided by various stakeholders, including those who got it done, those who got left behind and those who got pushed to the side:
Allen’s statement, via Facebook: “I’d like to take a moment to thank my former teammates, coaches and the staff at the Minnesota Vikings for all of their inspiring work and dedication. Perhaps more importantly I would like to thank the fans and the Minnesota community. I can only hope that I have left with you all, with even a fraction of the positive support and impact you have had on my life, my foundation and my family. I am very excited about this next chapter in my career with the Chicago Bears and can’t wait to see what the future holds for us. God bless.”
Seattle Seahawks GM Jon Schneider to NFL.com (via Seattle Post-Intelligencer): “I think (Allen’s) just sorting through whatever other offers he has out there, and, you know, if he wants to play with us or he wants to move his family to a different part of the country. I think there’s just a lot going through his head right now, you know? First time he’s ever hit free agency.
He’s a prideful man. He’s accomplished a lot in this league, so anything that we were able to offer was not out of disrespect or anything. It was just trying to fit the pieces together.”
Bears president and CEO Ted Phillips to the Chicago Tribune: “We’re just looking at him as a playmaker who has made a lot of impact plays. We love to have him aboard and he’s going to be a great fit.”
Head coach Marc Trestman via Chicagobears.com: “We know what his abilities bring to the table. Jared is certainly a very experienced player in the league. We believe he’s going to come in hungry and excited to be part of our football team, and we believe he’ll fit right in with the other new players that we’ve added and the guys that are already on the defensive side of the ball. I know that our defensive coaches are excited as well.”
NFL writer Kevin Seifert on ESPNChicago.com: “At the moment, the defense projects as many as six starters who are at least 30 years old. That statistic leaves the long-term future a work in progress. In the short term, however, the Bears have done their best to shake out the malaise of 2013. If it works, Jared Allen will have provided the spark.”
Postscript: It’s been reported that the Bears’ offer for Allen out-did the one made by the Seahawks, but apparently the Oakland Raiders made an even better offer, as written by Dan Hanzus on NFL.com.
Apparently, Allen wanted no parts of an Oakland franchise that was counting Matt Schaub among its biggest signings this year, so score Allen and Houston as two points gifted to the Bears in the name of Raider mediocity.
Hanzus goes on to write that Allen’s three main draws to Chicago were his faith in Jay Cutler, the chance to stay in the North division and the Bears’ prior moves this free agency period.
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