NFL Free Agency: Top Five Potential Suitors for Jared Allen

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NFL Free Agency: Five Possible Suitors For Jared Allen

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Jared Allen has been one of the NFL’s top pass rushers in recent years, and after finishing the 2013 season with 11.5 sacks he now has seven straight seasons with at least 11 sacks. Over the last six seasons with the Minnesota Vikings he had 85.5 sacks, including a league-high (and close to league single-season record) 22 in 2011. For his career he has 128.5 sacks, which is good for 12th in league history and second among active players (John Abraham-133.5).

Allen surely knew his time in Minnesota was nearing an end when his contract was not extended prior to this season, and that seemed to be further cemented when fellow defensive end Brian Robison was signed to a four-year contract extension in October.

It’s safe to assume the Vikings will make no effort to re-sign Allen as they look to turn around their fortunes after a five-win season in 2013, but he should get a fair amount of interest on the free agent market. He is not the elite-level player he once was, but a playoff contender that needs to bolster their pass rush could be willing to pony up significant money to Allen on a one or two-year deal.

I think it’s easy to write off a large number of the other 31 teams around the league as a bad fit for Allen, due primarily to his likely desire to join a team that has a legitimate chance to win a Super Bowl in the near future.

Here are five teams that I think will have the most interest in Allen this offseason.

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5. Cincinnati Bengals

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The Bengals have a good defense and a playoff-caliber team, but if they allow defensive end Michael Johnson to test the open market a lower-cost replacement could be sought. It’s unclear if Allen would fit that lower-cost profile, but if he truly wants to join a good team he should be willing to make some reasonable financial sacrifices.

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4. Chicago Bears

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If the Bears start a significant youth movement on the defensive side of the ball, Allen would not be a great fit. But with the struggles they had this past season, including a tied for league-low 31 sacks, no player regardless of age should be considered off-limits.

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3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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The fit here looks obvious, since former Vikings’ head coach Leslie Frazier has been hired as Tampa Bay’s new defensive coordinator and will bring the same defensive scheme Allen has spent the last six seasons in with him. But the Buccaneers could also use some help at defensive end, with Da’Quan Bowers’ career possibly in jeopardy after a knee injury cut his 2013 season short.

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2. Atlanta Falcons

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Osi Umenyiora had 7.5 of Atlanta’s 32 sacks this season, and he is not guaranteed to be back for 2014. Regardless of Umenyiora’s status, adding Allen would help bolster a pass rush that needs help if the Falcons have a chance to rebound next season.

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1. Denver Broncos

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Allen would surely like a chance to win a Super Bowl before his career is over, and the Broncos are likely to be seeking a pass rusher with Von Miller (torn right ACL) at best iffy for the start of next season.