Well, that was a surprise! After he visited seemingly half the NFL during his free agency tour, defensive end Jared Allen surprised everyone by signing a four-year contract with the Chicago Bears. The deal is reportedly worth $32 million, including $15.5 million guaranteed, which is way less than the Bears were set to pay Julius Peppers, who the team cut at the start of the 2014 NFL free agency period. Put simply, signing Allen to a deal like this was a great move by the Bears.
Allen will turn 32 in April, so this is likely the last meaningful contract of his career. He made it clear he was after the payday and a chance to play for a contender would just be icing on the cake. While the Bears haven’t made the playoffs in three years, they’re hoping that adding guys like Allen will change that in 2014 and give them a chance to contend for a Super Bowl.
Allen isn’t the only free agent defensive end to switch teams within the NFC North. Shortly after his release from Chicago, Peppers signed with the Green Bay Packers, so it can be argued that Allen’s signing was a necessity for the Bears not just to fill that void, but to keep pace in one of the most competitive divisions in all of football.
With Lamarr Houston, Willie Young and Israel Idonije already in the fold, the Bears now have a solid pass-rushing rotation off the edge and should see a significant improvement from their defense in 2014. Of course, that’s assuming Allen can still play like a 11.5-sack defensive end, but that’s a pretty safe bet.