NFL: Defensive end Jared Allen joins Chicago Bears after leaving Minnesota Vikings
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH. Last Updated: 26/03/14 2:10pm
Jared Allen of the Minnesota Vikings looks on before the game against the Detroit Lions
Former Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen has not moved far to find a new team, remaining in the NFC North by signing for the Chicago Bears.
In one of the more surprising moves in free agency, the Bears picked up Allen from their divisional rivals despite many believing he could join reigning Super Bowl champions Seattle after making two visits to the Seahawks.
The 31-year-old has 128.5 career sacks in ten seasons in the NFL, good for the 12th most in history and more than anyone since he entered the league.
The Bears recently restructured quarterback Jay Cutler's contract and now the reason seems to be clear with them handing out $32 million to Allen over his four-year contract.
Allen led the league in sacks in both 2007 and 2011 and has averaged 14.5 over the last seven seasons without ever falling below 11 in a campaign.
The five-time Pro Bowl selection hit free agency for the first time after failing to agree on a new deal with the Vikings, and now he will be back at least once to Minnesota next season hunting after whoever they settle on as their starting quarterback.
"We're really excited about adding Jared to our football team," Bears coach Marc Trestman told the team's official website. "We know what his abilities bring to the table. Jared is certainly a very experienced player in the league.
"We believe he's going to come in hungry and excited to be part of our football team, and we believe he'll fit right in with the other new players that we've added and the guys that are already on the defensive side of the ball. I know that our defensive coaches are excited as well."
The Bears tied for last in sacks last season but have done a complete overhaul during free agency by bringing in four defensive ends in total, with Allen following Detroit Lions pair Willie Young and Israel Idonije and Oakland's Lamarr Houston in moving to Soldier Field.
Despite his advancing years, Allen has proven to be more than durable and started all 16 games in each of the last six seasons and has figured in 157 games during his illustrious career.
Allen also brings the knowledge and experience of chasing down Aaron Rodgers and Matt Stafford in the NFC North, which will be invaluable as the Bears look to challenge in what will be another tough division next season.