7:54am: Allen’s four-year deal is worth $32MM, but voids down to $24MM over three years, according to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports (Twitter link), who adds that the contract includes $15.5MM in guaranteed money. The base salaries for the first two seasons are guaranteed, and the pact also includes a guaranteed roster bonus next March, tweets Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. Those figures suggest the deal essentially amounts to two years and $15.5MM, giving the Bears some options after that point.
7:38am: The Super Bowl champions won’t be adding another veteran pass rusher to their roster after all. After initially appearing as if he was on the verge of an agreement with the Seahawks, Jared Allen will instead join an old division rival. The free agent defensive end has agreed to terms on a four-year contract to join the Bears, the club announced today (Twitter link).
For the Bears, it’s their second major free agent splash at defensive end so far this offseason — the club already added former Raider Lamarr Houston on a five-year, $35MM contract. In Houston, the Bears added an end more known for his run-stopping ability, but Allen will give the team an elite pass rusher to help replace Julius Peppers, who was released by Chicago earlier this month.
Allen, 31, remained productive and durable in 2013, recording 11.5 sacks in his last season with the Vikings. It was the sixth straight year in which Allen had started all 16 regular season contests for the team, and the seventh consecutive season he’d notched 11 or more sacks. The former fourth-round pick played well against the run as well, according to Pro Football Focus, whose metrics ranked him fifth overall among 4-3 defensive ends in ’13 (subscription required). Allen also appeared in 1,044 defensive snaps last season and wants to continue to play full time, which may have played a role in his choosing Chicago over Seattle. It’ll be interesting to see how the Bears manage Allen’s playing time in 2014 and beyond, as he enters his age-32 season.
In addition to the Seahawks, the Cowboys were also interested in Allen, though those two teams had limited cap flexibility to offer the veteran defensive end the sort of contract he was seeking. A report from a week ago suggested that Allen was looking for an annual salary close to $10MM, in the neighborhood of what DeMarcus Ware and Peppers received. As I noted at the time, the guaranteed money on Ware’s and Pepper’s deals varied significantly, so we’ll have to see what Allen’s new deal with the Bears looks like.
The Bears hadn’t had a ton of cap flexibility themselves before the team restructured Jay Cutler‘s contract this week to create an extra $4MM in 2014 space. As we’ve seen with plenty of other signings this month, including Jairus Byrd‘s $54MM deal with the Saints, $4MM+ is more than enough room to fit in the first year of a long-term contract if the team structures it creatively. Chicago’s preexisting cap space, plus the new $4MM, should be more than enough to fit in Allen and the club’s draft picks.
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