Jared Allen is walking on unfamiliar ground for his career. The last time Allen was entering the final year of a contract, he was in Kansas City and general manager Carl Peterson made an unfortunate remark regarding Allen in terms of signing him to a long-term contract. He referred to Allen, who had picked up a couple of DWIs as a result of his party lifestyle, as a “troubled young man” who was still at-risk.
Allen, who had seen the light of what could be taken away from him if his off-field antics became news, felt Peterson betrayed him with his public comments that insinuated his run-ins with the law might not be over and that signing him to a long-term deal was a risk.
A man of honor, Allen felt the glove-slap given by Peterson was enough for him. He wanted out. Whatever needed to be done, he was done in Kansas City. A trade with the Vikings was orchestrated in short order and with it came a lucrative multi-year contract that assured he wasn’t going to be a one-hit wonder.
The only reason Allen hasn’t had that contract torn up and a new deal struck a year or two ago was that he has earned every dollar that was part of the initial deal – a rarity in the modern NFL.
As far as contract negotiations go, Allen and the Vikings aren’t meeting and, by all accounts, no meetings are planned. Asked if contract negotiations are making any progress, Allen was his typical dead-honest self and said that nothing has happened and perhaps giving the reason why.
“No – same old, same old,” Allen told NFL Network. “I am just out here trying to get better, honestly. It is my first time having to deal with an injury in the offseason as far as surgery goes. So, I am just rehabbing my shoulder in the weight room, getting stronger. It’s so good to work out again and train the way I am used to training and to sleep again. Anyone who has had a shoulder injury knows you don’t sleep very well. The last few years, I have been tossing and turning.”
Vikings fans hope that a healthy, motivated Allen in 2013 will be anywhere close to the healthy, motivated Adrian Peterson of 2012. If that happens, there is no way Allen leaves the Vikings – even if the franchise tag is involved. Allen isn’t going to sweat the long-term deal any more than he has to. He’s been around the rodeo long enough to know the bull draws the house as much as the riders. If he goes out and shows that El Diablo can still throw ‘em like few others, the final big contract of his career will come his way.
It will come regardless, even if he doesn’t have a great 2013 season. Somewhere Daniel Snyder or Jerry Jones are ready to make ridiculously high offers if Allen ever hits free agency – offers that even the late, great Tony Soprano (R.I.P. Jimmy) couldn’t refuse. For his part, Allen remains non-committal and positive about his future in the NFL – whether in Minnesota or elsewhere.
“Things always work out the way they are supposed to,” Allen said. “Too many times in this league, people focus on their contracts or it’s all business. You have holdouts. I have been through that in the past and it is stressful. I am a firm believer that, if you take care of what you are supposed to take care of on the football field, the rest will take care of itself.”
Whether 2013 is Allen’s Vikings swan song or just the latest chapter in the middle of the book will be determined over the next six months. If Allen puts in the kind of season he anticipates, the Vikings will be on their way to bigger things in January. Allen won’t say book your reservations for the first (and potentially last) true cold weather Super Bowl, but, he isn’t leaving it out of the realm of legitimate possibility.
“If we stay healthy, I know we have a shot to win some games, win our division, and get to where we need to get,” Allen said. “Obviously, this time of year, everybody thinks they are (going to be) Super Bowl champs and that makes this time of year fun. I am not into making bold, outlandish predictions, but we are going to do everything we can to get there and win it.”
Special teams coach Mike Priefer typically isn’t too shy about answering questions that aren’t simply “yes” or “no” answers. However, he was able to answer three questions regarding Chris Kluwe in a total of 19 words – which has to be a new record for Priefer. Asked when was preparing his postseason report, how strongly did he feel he needed to upgrade the punter position, his answer was two words – “Very strongly.” Asked what the primary factors were – was it statistical or something else – Priefer checked in with seven words, saying, “No, it was more consistency and productivity.” Asked a third question as to whether he believed Kluwe could bounce back or were the Vikings looking for a new punter, Priefer topped out with 10 words, “I just felt like we needed to make a change there.”
The Patriots are already without Wes Welker, who turned down a lowball offer to take his talents to Denver. Rob Gronkowski had yet another surgery Monday – this one on his back – and his availability for the start of the season is very much in doubt. Now, Aaron Hernadez is embroiled in a homicide investigation. 2013 may be the truest test of Tom Brady’s ability because there is a growing possibility that he will be without all three of his top targets from last season for part or all of this season.
The Jaguars announced that they’re going to have video boards in the end zones at EverBank field that are 301 feet long. While a video screen longer than the field itself seems like an unlikely stadium addition, the good news is that the inclusion of the video screen will result in 7,000 seats being eliminated, which isn’t a bad thing for the Jaguars, who have had a long history of trouble selling out games.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for 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.