The Vikings' need for a defensive end could be filled on draft day, but it might not come in the form of a rookie.
Rumors from Kansas City have been placing the Minnesota Vikings as one of a handful of suitors for the services of decorated defensive end Jared Allen for about a month now, but we've been unable to get confirmation on that until this week.
Allen told FOXSports.com that the Vikings and Buccaneers have held trade talks with the Chiefs and he anticipates a deal will get done prior to next week's draft, according to Fox Sports' Jay Glazer. Allen said he had a visit set up with the Vikings this weekend in Minnesota and is tentatively scheduled to meet with Tampa Bay next week as well.
Allen led the NFL last season with 15½ sacks and the Vikings' need at the position is pronounced with 2004 first-round draft pick Kenechi Udeze diagnosed with leukemia in January and 2005 first-round draft choice Erasmus James trying to come back from his third knee surgery over the course of a 13-month period.
Allen is believed to be seeking a contract similar to that of Dwight Freeney, who signed a six-year contract in 2007 for $72 million that included a $15 million signing bonus and a $15 million option bonus. During the first two years of Freeney's deal, the cap implications aren't huge. He counted just $5.75 million against the 2007 cap and the same for 2008. However, in the final four years of his deal, his cap hit is $11.2 million, $13.8 million, $16.4 million and $19 million.
"I don't think (Allen) is worthy of Freeney-type money," said former NFL scout Tom Marino, now an analyst for Scout.com. "He is a high-energy player who had a lot of effort sacks. He has always been high maintenance off the field. He is a lot more powerful than I felt he was as a college player. Can close quickly on the football and his backside effort was very good."
Freeney missed seven games last year with a foot injury that landed him on injured reserve. Over the past two seasons, he has a combined nine sacks. Before that, he had 51 sacks in his first four seasons in the league.
Allen, on the other hand, led the NFL last year with 15.5 sacks. Over the course of his four-year career, he has had 43 sacks.
The Chiefs placed the franchise tag on Allen and if he signs the one-year deal associated with that exclusive designation, he would be guaranteed $8,879,000, but Allen is believed to be at odds with Chiefs management because of the lack of a long-term deal in lieu of signing the one-year franchise deal.
The Vikings are believed to have offered their first-round pick and one of their two third-round picks for Allen, but Kansas City is believed to be seeking more picks, possibly a second-round selection in next year's draft. If the Chiefs don't receive more compensation than already offered, the trade might not happen. The Vikings have nine picks in this year's draft, with extra selections in the third and sixth rounds due to trades over the past year. New England and San Francisco were believed to be interested in Allen earlier, and Pro Football Weekly reported interest from Jacksonville and Tampa Bay. However, the Vikings are believed to have the cap space and willingness to sign Allen to a long-term, big-dollar contract.
Beyond the money, the other risk factor for any team trading for Allen would be his status with the league. He originally received a four-game suspension from the league last offseason for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy after receiving a DUI in September 2006, but that penalty was reduced to two games to start the 2007 season. He still finished the 2007 season with 15½ sacks and 55 tackles. The Vikings haven't had a 15-sack player since John Randle recorded 15½ in 1997, and the last time they had a double-digit sacker was in 2004, when Kevin Williams had 11.5 and Lance Johnstone had 11. Last year, three defenders – Udeze, defensive end Ray Edwards and linebacker Ben Leber – tied for the team lead with five sacks.
Any deal for Allen might be contingent on the Chiefs being able to draft his replacement, and Kansas City currently holds the No. 5 spot in the first round, where they could be targeting Ohio State defensive end/outside linebacker Vernon Gholston if he is available and the Chiefs deal Allen. Virginia defensive end Chris Long, generally considered the top defensive end in the draft, is expected to be drafted before the fifth selection.
Allen requested a trade last offseason, but the Chiefs tendered him as a restricted free agent for $2.35 million last year. This year, he received the franchise tag.
Allen told the Kansas City Star last May that he hired a personal trainer, lost 15 pounds and hadn't had alcohol for eight months.
Big Trade Brewing for Vikings?
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