A year removed from falling one sack short of breaking the NFL single-season record, Jared Allen has been a hollowed shell of his former self.
The Minnesota Vikings‘ pass-rush specialist has dropped off significantly during the 2012 season, evidenced by his 9 sacks on the year. Compared to 2011’s impressive 22 sacks, it’s as if we’re seeing a completely different player out on the field this season.
The deficiencies go far beyond the sack department, though. In 2012, Allen has seen a decline in tackles and forced fumbles. He has struggled to dominate offensive tackles the way he did in 2011 and doesn’t get the type of consistent pressure that he became known for since he first joined the Vikings. Overall, he’s been half the player he was since coming to Minnesota and is on pace to have his lowest sack total since 2006, when he was still with the Kansas City Chiefs.
This sudden ineffectiveness brings up the question: should the Vikings trade Allen before it’s too late?
What makes this situation even more plausible is the emergence of third-year defensive end Everson Griffen as an impact player. Despite seeing limited snaps throughout the 2012 campaign, Griffen has amassed five sacks and is constantly in the face of opposing quarterbacks. His playmaking abilities stood out again in the Vikings’ latest victory against the St. Louis Rams when the USC product picked off a pass and ran it back for a back-breaking touchdown. If Griffen can manage to contribute at that level as a backup, imagine what he could do in a starting role.
At this point, the Vikings still have the opportunity to get a significant return for the 30-year-old Allen. Despite his drop in production this season, he’s still seen as a top-notch NFL pass rusher who could fetch a sizeable haul for a team that’s still in the middle of a rebuilding project. Even a few early-to-mid round draft picks in the upcoming 2013 NFL Draft could go far in helping the Vikings reassert themselves as contenders.
This move certainly wouldn’t be welcomed by Vikings fans as a whole considering the impact that Allen has had on the team and the surrounding community. Still, if General Manager Rick Spielman is serious about getting the team back to where it was in 2009, this could be just the kick-start the Vikings need.
Better to get something for Allen now then wait for him to become irrelevant and wither away into retirement.