On Wednesday, the Minnesota Vikings handed starting defensive end Brian Robison a four-year, $28-million extension. While the move was great for the left side of the line, what about right end Jared Allen?
In a contract 2013 campaign, the 31-year-old Allen is set to earn $14.3 million, making him one of the highest-paid defensive ends in the NFL. Unfortunately for the Vikings, they don’t have the cap space to continue paying Allen that type of money.
Especially with Robison receiving a new deal, the Vikings can only invest so much into their defensive line. They recently signed 2013 first-rounder Sharrif Floyd to a multi-million dollar contract and must get a new deal in place for up-and-coming edge rusher Everson Griffen.
Even Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kevin Williams will be a free agent in 2014, but the Vikings might opt to let him walk as well if the price isn’t right.
In order for the Vikings to maintain a significant amount of cap space heading into the 2014 offseason, they must watch Allen take his talents to free agency. They simply don’t have the money needed to sign him back, and other teams with more space will be willing to dish out the necessary dough to lure the All-Pro defensive end out of Minnesota.
The other factor that could make the Vikings comfortable with letting Allen walk is the presence of Griffen. A 2010 fourth-round pick, the USC product has slowly caught on as a dominant pass rusher. Despite starting only one game, Griffen notched eight sacks in 2012 while earning a significant role as a third-down specialist. The Vikings have been eager to get him more involved, which would be much easier with Allen out of the picture.
With Robison locked down for four years, the outlook got a lot gloomier for Allen. He’s a fan favorite, but his hefty price tag is too much for the Vikings to manage.
Unless he drastically drops his asking price in order to stay in Minnesota, don’t expect No. 69 to be wearing purple and gold in 2014.