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Jared Allen's options or lack thereof

With the free agency period basically all but finished, one notable player is still available. But does any team besides the Seahawks even have an offer or a roster spot for Allen?

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport

As of Tuesday, evening Jared Allen is still deciding on the offer presented to him by the Seahawks. The question I have at this point is what other option's Allen has. Though there were a few other teams to throw their name in the ring at the beginning of free agency, it seems that somehow a future Hall of Fame defensive end with some years left to give may be nearly out of options.

How does that even happen?

By letting some other veteran defensive ends quickly decide on their free agent futures, by being limited in what position you can play, and by seeing cap rooms around the league continuously shrink with each new deal, Allen may be down to one offer and one offer alone. Unless he wants to spend his last couple of years on a team that has almost no feasible shot on winning a playoff game, Seattle may have waited out Allen until the best possible moment.

That is, unless he decides that he's had enough. It seems like he may be close to doing that.

Here are the teams with enough cap room to sign Allen, the teams with an available spot, all of the teams that have neither of those things, and how this is likely coming down to playing for a Super Bowl contender at a discount or calling it a career:

Salary cap estimates via OvertheCap

Cleveland Browns - $31.7 million

Why it makes sense for Cleveland -

The Browns have already added veteran defensive players Donte Whitner and Karlos Dansby in an effort to improve immediately. Jabaal Sheard led the team with just 5.5 sacks last season.

Why it makes sense for Allen -


Why it makes no sense for Cleveland -

Allen is a 4-3 DE and Mike Pettine runs a 3-4. Even if they wanted to experiment, the Browns have three of the top 35 selections in the draft and will probably find someone there for a lot cheaper.

Why it makes no sense for Allen -

I'm rooting for Cleveland to turn around their franchise, certainly, but if Allen went there this would clearly be a situation that would make Nelly say, "Must be the money."

Conclusion: Highly unlikely

New York Jets - $28.6 million

Why it makes sense for New York -

It doesn't.

Why it makes sense for Allen -


Why it makes no sense for New York -

They also run a 3-4. They've got a good, young defensive line already.

Why it makes no sense for Allen -

He's got nowhere to play there.

Conclusion: Impossible

Cincinnati Bengals - $26.6 million

Why it makes sense for Cincinnati -

They run a 4-3 and lost Michael Johnson in free agency. Locked in pretty hard with Carlos Dunlap for awhile but have plenty of cap room. Dunlap led team with just 7.5 sacks last season. Have made playoffs in three consecutive seasons for first time in franchise history but can't get past first round. Defense has been good but fallen short of "elite" status.

Why it makes sense for Allen -

It would seem like there's an opportunity to get paid and also play for a contender, but there have been zero links between Allen and the Bengals.

Why it doesn't make sense for Cincinnati -

They have upcoming decisions to make on both A.J. Green and Andy Dalton, with both set to see their rookie contracts expire after next season. Green is a lock to be among the highest paid receivers in the NFL, but Dalton will be tougher to peg. Still, that's what people said about Joe Flacco and Jay Cutler at one time, and now they're both taking up a large chunk of the salary cap.

Why it doesn't make sense for Allen -

They don't appear to be offering. If they did, it probably wouldn't exceed his other offers because their salary cap room at the moment is a bit of an illusion.

Conclusion: Unlikely

Jacksonville Jaguars - $25.2 million

Why it makes sense for Jacksonville -

They can still afford just about anyone they want. No upcoming raises for a young star quarterback that they don't have. If Gus Bradley wants to do everything that Pete Carroll does, then you'd think he might emulate his interest with Allen.

Why it makes sense for Allen -


Why it doesn't make sense for Jacksonville -

They signed Chris Clemons and Red Bryant and could still show interest in Jadeveon Clowney or Khalil Mack on draft day. It would've made sense on the first day of free agency, but not anymore.

Why it doesn't make sense for Allen -

Crowded house and basically playing for "Seattle" but without the hope of winning a Super Bowl in the next two years.

Conclusion: Highly unlikely

Miami Dolphins - $19.1 million

Why it makes sense for Miami -

Hope that Dion Jordan is going to pan out is already waning.

Why it makes sense for Allen -

The cap room and scheme is all there.

Why it makes no sense for Miami -

They've got Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon (11.5 sacks last season, on a rookie contract that pays him almost nothing for the next two years, just like Russell Wilson.)

Why it makes no sense for Allen -

He'd be part of a rotation that he wants no part of.

Conclusion: Impossible

Philadelphia Eagles - $16.2 million

Why it makes sense for Philadelphia -

Their starting defensive ends combined for four sacks last season.

Why it makes sense for Allen -

They might have cap room and they were a playoff team last season.

Why it makes no sense for Philadelphia -

They run a 3-4.

Why it makes no sense for Allen -

They run a 3-4.

Conclusion: Impossible

Green Bay Packers - $16.1 million

Why it makes sense for Green Bay -

Their defense is terrible.

Why it makes sense for Allen -

Aaron Rodgers is good enough to get them to the playoffs in any year that he's healthy.

Why it makes no sense for Green Bay -

3-4, they signed Julius Peppers instead.

Why it makes no sense for Allen -

He'd constantly be trying to sack Rodgers because it's all he knows.

Conclusion: Impossible

Seattle Seahawks - $15.2 million

Why it makes sense for Seattle -

They've already shown an immense desire to add Allen. They lost Clemons and Bryant and view Allen as a more complete player that could be in on a higher percentage of snaps than anyone else on the defensive line, though he'd have to get used to not being a full-time player. Teamed up with Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett and Brandon Mebane, it would arguably give the team with the best secondary in the NFL also the most complete defensive line in the NFL.

Why it makes sense for Allen -

He's been a part of just one playoff win in his career.

Why it makes no sense for Seattle -

They created all of this cap room so that they could keep their own players, like Bennett and Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman, and not to add new ones.

Why it makes no sense for Allen -

He really may be sacrificing potentially as much as eight figures of his long-term salary income just for the sake of winning. We can infer by comments from John Schneider that the Seahawks made the most competitive offer they could make and that it was also a lot less than Allen was hoping for. By all accounts, he's having an internal struggle on whether it's better to get paid or be a part of a championship football team.

I'm not going to judge him if he decides that it's better to get paid, though I must say I'd find it odd if he actually chose to retire instead of taking $5 million to play for the reigning champ. I would literally play for Seattle for even the minimum of $450,000 or whatever it is now. (But not a penny less, I ain't no beyotch.)

However, we've also looked over seven teams already with more cap room than the Seahawks (allegedly) and none of them graded out any better than "Unlikely." None of them seemed all that feasible, meaning that Allen's options may be limited to the point where nobody is going to pay him anything close to what he wants.

Let's do the process of elimination by a speed round:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers - $12 million

They hired Leslie Frazier (Allen's coach in Minnesota) as defensive coordinator, but already signed Michael Johnson to a big free agent contract. Reports before free agency opened were that Tampa was not interested anyway.

Oakland Raiders - $11.7 million

At one point they had so much cap room that they added Matt Schaub in a trade and didn't even make him take a paycut. (That shit is still blowing my mind.) Lost Lamarr Houston but added Justin Tuck. Allen would be an obvious upgrade, an immediate starter, get all of the playing time he wants and probably all the money too.

But the Raiders are even further away from competing than the Browns are. If there's any competition for Allen in terms of money, it should be Oakland, but we don't even know if they're interested. There have been no solid connections between the Raiders and Allen that I know of.

Dallas Cowboys - $6.4 million

One of the only other teams to apparently show interest in Allen, they instead added Henry Melton, a player that has already opted for Dallas over Seattle. Allen could sign with the Cowboys, if he'd really enjoy taking less money to play for a worse team.

Fun fact: The player with the highest cap figure on Dallas is Brandon Carr and I wouldn't blame anyone for not even knowing what position Brandon Carr plays. (He's a cornerback on one of the worst secondaries in the NFL.)

Chicago Bears - $10.4 million

Also previously linked to Allen, the Bears signed Lamarr Houston and Willie Young instead. It's not as though they couldn't still use Allen (Seattle may have more pass-rushing options at the moment than Chicago does) but they wouldn't be able to pay him or play him more than the Seahawks could.

It would be surprising if the Bears still had any interest at this point.

New York Giants - $5 million

They would probably like to be involved, but I don't know that they're even able to sign their rookie class and practice squad without making a couple more cuts. They had only 33 sacks last season and 11 of those belong to Tuck. Jason Pierre-Paul and Mathias Kiwanuka combined for just eight sacks. The money just isn't there and they wouldn't be able to make enough moves to free it up unless they cut some pretty valuable players.

Teams that run a 3-4:

Colts, Bills, Titans, Texans, Falcons (pretty much), Redskins

Teams with less than $5 million in cap space:

Panthers, Cardinals, 49ers, Chiefs, Ravens, Chargers, Steelers, Lions, Saints

Teams that just let Jared Allen go:


Teams that signed DeMarcus Ware instead:


Teams that have two full-time starting defensive ends:

Rams, Patriots

So, what are Jared Allen's options, really?




Bengals, Jaguars, Bears, Buccaneers, Browns

Probably in that order.

By all accounts, Allen is deciding right now between playing for the defending-champion Seattle Seahawks for a salary that's half of what he expected, or he's going to retire. Though I said earlier that I couldn't understand why a person would reject five million dollars (and in reality, it's probably a bit more than that) and a chance to win a Super Bowl, it does start to make some sense when you look at the bigger picture.

Jared Allen has been playing football for his entire life. When you get to this level, there is a shitload of work and effort involved. Whether he plays in 2014 or not, Allen is likely looking at retirement within four years anyway. No matter what happens, he's already staring down the barrel of spending the next 40 to 50 years of his life without football and he's already got enough money to live 10 lifetimes without working again. He's got hobbies outside of the game, like hunting and... I think mostly just hunting... that he's probably looking forward to doing AD/ED. (All day, every day.) You have to set some sort of limit of what it's worth to give up your free time in order to bust your ass for somebody else.

It's apparent that whatever the Seahawks offered, it was not necessarily over the limit for Allen. It's enough to make him and his wife consider it for almost a week now, and that's as encouraging as it is telling. It also appears that nobody else is offering much more, otherwise I think Allen would already be on the Raiders.

If you want Allen to sign with Seattle, the good news is that it appears they're the only option.

If you don't want Allen to sign with Seattle if it's going to cost a lot of money, it's pretty obvious that's not going to happen under any circumstances anyway.

Right now it looks like it's either Allen to the Seahawks on an extraordinary bargain or Allen to the woods. I can't imagine that a third scenario exists anymore.