Chiefs must sign Allen long-term

Wednesday afternoon the Indianapolis combine will begin as teams observe potential draft choices. But there's a bigger issue this week for the select few NFL clubs who will announce their big-name franchise players. In Kansas City, it's all about defensive end Jared Allen.

A year ago at this time a line in the sand had been drawn. Allen's agent, Ken Harris, made an offer to the Chiefs that if accepted, would have paid his client $50 million over six years. That offer was rebuffed, incensing Allen, who then made it clear signing him for the long haul in the future would be difficult.

Allen did show up and enjoyed a stellar season in which he led the league in sacks on his way to the Pro Bowl. The two sides – Allen and the Chiefs – are once again in for a heavy showdown that must be resolved before Thursday afternoon. That's the day the Chiefs and 31 other teams will announce their franchise players.

Heading into talks a year ago, Allen believed he'd done everything to show the Chiefs his two DUI arrests were a thing of the past. He cleaned up his act, stopped drinking, spent a few days in jail and paid his debt to society. But the Chiefs made it clear they still viewed Allen as a player with risk, which Carl Peterson pointed out to the media after early contract talks fell apart.

Early this year, Allen told Warpaint Illustrated he'll have no issue with signing a one-year contract worth roughly $9 million if the Chiefs choose to franchise him. But if a long-term deal is not in place by the start of the regular season, Allen said he'll never sign with the Chiefs beyond 2009, when he can become an unrestricted free agent.

The Chiefs can place the franchise tag on him in 2008 and 2009, because between now and then the franchise is in good cap position. The Chiefs have roughly $25 million in cap space this year, and potentially even more next offseason. The only big-time contract that requires attention besides Allen's is linebacker Derrick Johnson's.

So the Chiefs have the cash. Will Allen get it, for the long term? That's where Carl Peterson comes in.

There's been a confirmed shift in control inside the organization. Herm Edwards has won the power struggle, and now has more clout where player personnel is concerned. That's all any man in his position wants.

Peterson has two years remaining on his last contract. He has a serious decision to make on how his tenure as a Chief will end.

Peterson doesn't want to be remembered as a tough-as-nails negotiator and fiscal wizard who, along with some sound player acquisitions, also made some poor personnel decisions and reached only one AFC Championship game in 20 years. This week is his chance to win back some fans.

He has an opportunity to sit across the table from Ken Harris and humbly take his medicine. Peterson could extend his hand when they meet face to face in Indianapolis (assuming they'll meet) and produce a reasonable contract offer to end this stalemate.

The Chiefs are moving ahead with a plan that's long overdue. They want to be a young team, and in order to climb the AFC West ladder they'll need to count on around 20 new players. They need their superstars - Allen, Larry Johnson, Tony Gonzalez and Dwayne Bowe - to produce like champions.

So right now, legacy is the only word that really matters for Peterson. He wants fans to remember him as the man that brought passion for football back to Kansas City.

Right now, he's similar in some ways to Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who is hoping for a major comeback this week in Wisconsin and Hawaii. If she can win those states, maybe she can change her fortunes and stave off Barack Obama, who is steamrolling the country with the theme of "Change."

Peterson should seek to confirm the meaning of that word as it applies to Chiefs football. He can accomplish that by doing what nobody expects him to do - signing Allen to a long-term contract and making amends for passing on a deal that would have cost the organization roughly $30 million less a year ago.

If he doesn't get it done, the heat Peterson has taken this offseason within the organization and within Chiefs Nation will only intensify. It might just burn away the future chances of anyone using "Carl Peterson" and "legacy" in the same sentence with a positive connotation. Top Stories