Analysis: Value, production of DE shakeup

The primary pass rusher for three of the four NFC North teams will be different in 2014, but the market was more depressed for the older ones than they might have anticipated. We compare the contracts, production, durability and age of the defensive ends switching teams in the NFC North.

Now that it appears the NFC North has settled into the defensive ends that will be getting after the quarterbacks in the passer-rich division, it's safe to say the shakeup has been significant.

Jared Allen is no longer with the Vikings. He signed a four-year, $32 million contract with the Chicago Bears on Wednesday. It was a significant pay cut over the $17 million cap number Allen possessed with the Vikings last year, but the structure of the position changed dramatically this offseason.

Allen was far from alone in the defensive ends that moved within the division, with some of the biggest names of the past 10 years switching teams.

Julius Peppers went from the Bears to the Green Bay Packers, creating the opening for Allen. Like Allen, he had to take a big step back in salary, too. Just like Allen with the Vikings, Peppers possessed the Bears' top cap number in 2013 – $14.38 million. Going forward, Peppers will be averaging $8.67 million over the life of his three-year deal with the Packers, assuming he stays there that long.

The Vikings actually started the movement within the division at defensive end when they re-signed Everson Griffen, their own pending free agent, to a five-year, $42.5 million contract that put him just behind Peppers in average per year but ahead of Allen, the man he is replacing.

For the Vikings, it was clearly about youth and finding a player on the rise, paying as much for potential as past production. They know all about his athleticism, even if he wasn't previously given the opportunity to be a full-time starter.

Youth didn't matter as much for the Packers or Bears.

Here is a look at the significant defensive end contracts in the division, and the past production of those whose signatures appear on the contracts, along with one big signing outside the division (DeMarcus Ware) that helped set the market – likely at a lower value than any of the older ends anticipated.

JARED ALLEN

The contract: 4 years, $32 million with $15.5 million guaranteed.

The stats: For his career, Allen has 128.5 sacks and 442 tackles. Over the last three years, Allen has 47.5 sacks, helped along significantly by his 22 sacks in 2011, coming up just a half-sack shy of the NFL's single-season record. Last year, he had 11.5, second-lowest of his six-year career with the Vikings.

But Allen is also a workhorse at right end. He led defensive linemen over the past three years with 3,208 snaps, easily the most, according to Pro Football Focus. (Interestingly, Brian Robison was second in the league with 2,807).

JULIUS PEPPERS

The contract: 3 years, $26 million with $7.5 million guaranteed by the Packers.

The stats: Over his 12-year career, Peppers has 118.5 sacks and 556 tackles. Over the last three years, Peppers has 29.5 sacks, falling significantly behind Allen.

Like Allen, Peppers has been relatively durable. He didn't miss a game with the Bears over his four years there, and has missed only eight games since entering the league in 2002, including four his rookie season.

The age: Peppers is 34 years old.

EVERSON GRIFFEN

The contract: 5 years, $42.5 million with $19.8 million guaranteed by the Vikings.

The stats: Griffen has started only one game in his career, but that can be a bit deceiving. He still played in 60 percent of the snaps last year, rotating between defensive end and defensive tackle. Nose tackle Letroy Guion, who was a starter, played in only 33 percent of the defensive snaps.

In that time, Griffen provided 27 tackles and 5.5 sacks.

The age: Griffen will be 26 at the start of the season and turns 27 in December.

DeMARCUS WARE

The contract: 3 years, $30 million with $16.5 guaranteed with the Broncos.

The stats: Ware and Allen have been neck-and-neck for most of their careers – Ware with Dallas since 2005 and Allen with Kansas City and Minnesota – when it comes to sacks. However, last year Ware had only six sacks in 13 games played and has fallen behind both Allen and Peppers now on the career sacks chart. He has 442 tackles for his career.

Prior to missing three games last year, Ware had missed only one other game in his career. Over the last three years, he has 37 sacks, including a 19.5 mark in 2011, the same year Allen went for 22.

The age: Like Allen, Ware will be 32 during the 2014 season.


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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