Jared Allen was meant to be the final piece in former Bears general manager Phil Emery’s go-for-it-all plan in 2014. He was missing the veteran presence and voice. He would improve the lagging pass rush.
Instead, the veteran right end had a disappointing 18-game run over two seasons. Despite his natural charisma and energetic ways, Allen’s struggles became one of the several stories that came to encapsulate the Bears’ failures under Emery.
Should Chicago remember him for that? No, that wouldn’t be fair to Allen, who announced his retirement after 12 seasons on Thursday.
Allen’s early-season bout with pneumonia, where he lost around 20 pounds, hurt him more than he let on during the 2014 season. He led the defensive line in playing time, but finished with 5.5 sacks, his lowest total in eight years.
The off-the-field intangibles that Allen provided the Bears also couldn’t compete with all the turmoil that did in coach Marc Trestman’s final season.
Last year, with new management and coaches in place, Allen admirably tried to switch to outside linebacker in defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s 3-4 scheme. It didn’t work out, and he was traded to the Panthers for a sixth-round pick in this year’s draft.
It was a move that Allen profusely thanked general manager Ryan Pace and coach John Fox for making with Carolina, which went 15-1 and eventually lost to the Broncos 24-10 in Super Bowl 50.
Allen should be remembered as a formidable foe for quarterback Jay Cutler and the Bears’ offensive line over his six years with the Vikings. Of his 136 career sacks – which are tied for the ninth-most in NFL history – Allen had 49.5 against the NFC North.
Signing Allen made complete sense for the Bears at the time. Allen, who was the league’s active sack leader, had 11.5 sacks in the 2013 season. The Bears finished the same season tied with a league-low 31 sacks.
Julius Peppers also was released when left end Lamarr Houston was signed. Unlike Peppers’ contract, Allen’s new one wasn’t an overbearing hindrance being worth $15.5 million guaranteed over the first two years. Allen and Houston figured to make a nice tandem.
It just didn’t work out that way.
Allen, 33, promised to step away from the NFL when he felt he couldn’t play at the level he wants. That time has come.
A fourth-round pick from Idaho State for the Chiefs in 2004, Allen steps away with Hall-of-Fame credentials – two sack titles, five Pro Bowl appearances and four first-team All-Pro selections.
Allen announced his retirement by posting a video on Twitter of himself on a horse wearing a cowboy hat.
“Well everyone, I just wanted to say thank you for an amazing 12-year career,” Allen said. “And this was the part where I was going to ride off into the sunset. But seeing how there’s no sunset, I’m just going to ride off.”
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