Allen Took Trade Talk As ‘Sign Of Respect’
High-profile players with huge contracts are rarely dealt in this league, so the likelihood of him switching teams was slim. Still, he’ll be a free agent after the year. The Vikings (1-6) are on track for another rebuilding project. Salary cap complications aside, there were sensible reasons for a trade of the four-time first-team All-Pro defensive end.
He’s spoken with general manager Rick Spielman and vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski and said they’re on the same page about his status.
“I understand where we’re at in the season. As a matter of fact, I take it as a sign of respect that they still think I have value,” Allen said. “But I’m excited to be a Viking. I really am. I’m excited to try to right this ship, and I’m all in.”
Allen is making more than $14 million this year, and he’ll turn 32 before next season. The Vikings have been vulnerable at so many other positions this year, and they’ve already signed defensive end Brian Robison to a contract extension, so he is unlikely to return here in 2014 even if he wants to. Coach Leslie Frazier said Allen told him he’d prefer to finish his career with Minnesota, but for that to be the case he’d probably have to retire.
Allen’s 121½ sacks, including 4½ this season, are the second-most among active players behind John Abraham of the Arizona Cardinals. Abraham has played four more years in the league than Allen, who spent four seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs before being traded to the Vikings.
“I’m sure at the end of the year when it’s all said and done, I’ll sit down with Rick and Rob and we’ll all have an honest conversation of where we’re at, what we plan on doing, and whatever happens will happen then. Right now it’s about winning football games. We have nine games left, and a lot can happen in nine games.”
Frazier said he wasn’t worried about losing his best pass rusher at midseason.
Some of his fellow players wondered, though.
“As we all know, this is the NFL. It’s only a matter of time for every one of us in here,” linebacker Erin Henderson said.
Allen was notably upbeat as he took questions from reporters for more than 18 minutes in the locker room, as if he were trying to match the ultimate podium rambler, his former teammate Brett Favre. Despite the difficulty of the upcoming schedule and the persistent struggles at quarterback and defensive back, Allen said repeatedly he believed the Vikings could still start a long winning streak. He might’ve been trying to make himself feel better, but his optimism was unmistakable.
“We can’t forfeit games. We’re not going to pull a Grambling and refuse to get on the bus,” he said, adding: “I’m not going to let circumstances make my job. Football is what I do, not who I am.”
Allen said he might have to be “tougher” on his teammates down the stretch, as well as on himself.
“You demand more. You demand excellence. Maybe tougher is the wrong word. It’s accountability,” Allen said.
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