By the time the Vikings start their fourth organized team activity Tuesday, they should have had…
Holler: Time to extend Allen
When a player is under-performing the terms of his contract, he's cut. Antoine Winfield wasn't worth $7 mil-and-change and him signing for less with Seattle validates that notion. He got his walking papers. Kevin Williams got his salary cut and a year cut off his deal.
The Vikings have sent a message to older players – they're an endangered species. The only problem with that mindset is that, in a perfect world, the team created by the current regime is in need of veteran leaders.
Jared Allen is one of those players.
When the Vikings gave up three draft picks for Allen in 2008, they cured a decade-long problem of getting a consistent pass rush. His contract raised eyebrows when it was signed. It was significant. In 2013, he is set to make in excess of $14 million in base salary with a cap hit exceeding $16 million.
Unlike other players who underplayed their deals, Allen has earned every penny he has been paid in relative NFL terms. When healthy, he's still one of the best pass rushers, especially from the position of being a 4-3 defensive end, in the league. He says he is 95 percent healed from a shoulder injury he willingly played through last year and all it would take is one MRI by the Vikings to confirm that contention.
If the Vikings want to play lawyer-ball, they have the hammer with Allen. If they believe he has two productive years left in him, they can let his contract expire after this season and then slap the franchise tag on him – effectively denying anything more than a mercenary, incentive-laden contract to close out his career in Minnesota.
Allen is a Hall of Famer. With any luck, an outside-the-box bust-maker will put his pre-marital mullet on his head shot, but make no mistake – Jared Allen's last stop on his NFL journey is going to be Canton, Ohio. The Vikings can do something about what franchise is front and center. It should be the Vikings. It has to be the Vikings.
Allen is as popular with Vikings fans as any player because the fan base identifies with him. If he's doing a TV interview, he looks into the camera and is brutally honest. Minnesotans respect that. He has passed beyond being "one of them." As far as Vikings fans are concerned, he's "one of ours."
As things currently stand, Allen isn't going anywhere. If the Vikings want to get into a "who blinks first" contest, they'll win. So will Allen. He will get paid handsomely for his potential 2014 franchise tag. But it can all be avoided.
The Vikings should sign Allen to a career-ending contract. Why? He's earned it. If anyone deserves to be overpaid in the last year or two of his contract, it's Allen. He's built up enough equity to deserve it and he can be a positive mouthpiece for the franchise years after he's done playing.
Get it done, Wilf family. There aren't many players who get to punch their own exit visa from the NFL. The Vikings have the chance to do so now with Allen. He has earned the opportunity to retire a Viking … and get overpaid at least once. That's the main perk of being a leader.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
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