Vikings cornerback Asher Allen has retired from football at age 24, head coach Leslie Frazier announced Wednesday.
Allen suffered a concussion in the first half of Week 15 game last season against the New Orleans Saints, and missed the next game but started the final game of the season. He also suffered a concussion in November 2010. Last year, he also struggled with a shoulder injury late in the season and a preseason toe injury that caused him to miss the season opener. Frazier wouldn't say if the concussions were a reason for the retirement.
"He'll talk about it more at some point, but he explained to me that this was something he wanted to do. He had given it a lot of thought and that's what he wanted to do," Frazier said.
Allen was a third-round draft pick of the Vikings in 2009 and played in 37 career games, making 21 starts.
With a secondary depleted of depth last year after starter Antoine Winfield spent the final seven games on injured reserve and Chris Cook spent the final 10 games away from the team after an arrest for domestic assault, Allen ended up starting nine games.
The Vikings added cornerbacks Chris Carr and Zack Bowman in free agency and drafted Josh Robinson in the third round this year, but Allen would have been a likely candidate to earn a roster spot.
"He would have been one of the corners fighting for a spot, just like the other guys are, but his experience would have helped us," Frazier said.
"Surprised. I didn't see that coming, but everybody has to make decisions that are best for them."
Frazier said he was informed of Allen's decision to retire last Thursday and indicated the Vikings will keep their options open in searching for additional depth. The Vikings also released cornerback Cedric Griffin before the start of free agency. Griffin had played in 80 games and made 70 starts since being a second-round draft choice in 2006, but torn anterior cruciate ligaments in each of his knees since 2009 limited his effectiveness.
"You've got to keep looking like we would even if (Allen) were here to create competition and continue to upgrade that position and that's what we'll do," Frazier said. "We want depth and we want competition in the secondary and he definitely helped to provide that, but that opens up another spot."
Allen finishes his short Vikings career with 129 tackles, four interceptions and 18 passes broken up. He led the team with 10 passes defensed in 2010, when he made a career-high 11 starts in replacing Griffin.
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CB Asher Allen informs Vikings of retirement
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