Fresh Start

James Allen came to the Bears with little fanfare and left in a similar fashion. The running back inked a one-year deal Friday worth $800,000 with the expansion Houston Texans.

The Bears were never serious contenders to re-sign Allen especially after spending big money on Jim Miller and Olin Kreutz.

Despite gaining over 1,100 yards in 2000 Allen lost his starting job last season to Anthony Thomas, who went on to become the Offensive Rookie of the Year. Allen gained 469 yards in 2001, but will have the opportunity start for the Texans.

"This is a chance for James to go down there and show he's one of the top backs in the league," Allen's agent, Steve Mandell, told the Houston Chronicle. "There were three or four other teams that were really intense in their pursuit of James, but we felt his best opportunity was to go down to Houston, get a chance to play and maximize his strengths."

After losing his starting job to Thomas, Allen was used primarily in third down situations and had 30 receptions, which ranked fourth on the team. In four seasons with the Bears Allen rushed for 1,978 yards with seven total touchdowns.

The loss of Allen could force the Bears to either sign or draft a running back. Both Anthony Thomas and Leon Johnson are big backs, thus the most likely candidate would be a speed back, who can catch the ball out of the backfield. However, the team will not pay a lot in free agency to fill the void or use a high round draft choice.

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