Phil Emery has done it again. Just when Bears fans thought that the team was done making free-agency moves, the Emery blindsides not only the NFC North but the entire NFC. It was no secret that the Bears needed to bolster their defense if they wanted to be major players in the NFC. With the team signing Lamar Miller, Willie Young, Ryan Mundy, M.D. Jennings coupled with the re-signing of Charles Tillman and D.J Williams, the team seemed to be set on defense heading into the draft in May.
Lo-and-behold the announcement was made this morning that the Bears have landed the biggest name remaining on the free agency list: Jared Allen. Allen who spent the last 6 seasons with division rival Minnesota Vikings. At the beginning of the free agent signing period there were rumors that Allen could be heading to the Windy City, but those were quickly dismissed when the Bears didn’t scoop him up in the first few days of the signing period. Allen then made multiple visits to the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks, and a visit to the Dallas Cowboys. It was also reported that Allen had a deal in place with the Seahawks, but he left Seattle without signing, saying that he was going to take the weekend to talk to his family and make his decision next week.
Allen’s agent had spoken about a mystery team that was “in the mix” but much of the speculation was that team was the N.Y. Jets, who’s coach Rex Ryan was very outspoken about how the team wanted to sign Allen.
Meanwhile in Chicago strange things were happening. First the Bears made a few roster moves by releasing a few players who refused to restructure their contracts in order to free up some cap room. Then not more than 3 months after signing his deal, Quarterback Jay Cutler’s deal was restructured converting base salary into bonus money, freeing up an additional $4 million in cap space. With those moves being made, the Bears suddenly had around $11 million in cap space available. This set off a few sirens around the league, with the experts wondering what the Bears were going to do. Speculation was that they wanted the extra space in case of injury and they needed to sign a player or two in case of injury. The Allen speculation began again with inquiries as to if he signed with Seattle, or if he was still mulling other offers. Then this morning the news broke that Allen was staying in the NFC North.
The Bears have found their replacement for Julius Peppers, a DE that has more sacks over the past 6 years, and one who is 3 years younger. Allen has 122.5 career sacks, and has tallied double-digit sack totals since 2007. His deal is for 4 years at $32 million with $15.5 million guaranteed. Now more than ever, the Bears seem serious about competing for not only the NFC North but for the Super Bowl as well.