John Randle has an idea what Jared Allen is going through.
Randle, one of the best defensive linemen in Vikings history, left the team near the end of his career to sign with Seattle. Now, another great pass rusher is departing Minnesota.
Ken Harris, Allen's agent, confirmed Sunday that Allen will leave as a free agent. Harris wrote in an email to the Pioneer Press: “He made his decision to narrow it down (Saturday) night after I had a final conversation with the club.”
It is not known yet where the defensive end will go after six seasons in Minnesota. But Randle suspects he has mixed emotions.
“Yeah, it's a tough decision when you leave” said the Hall of Famer, who left the Vikings after the 2000 season. “It's the nature of the business, but I think Jared definitely will say that Minnesota will always be his home team. He bleeds purple like the rest of the great pass rushers of the Minnesota Vikings.”
Allen, who turns 32 next month, did not return a message Sunday. He told the Pioneer Press on Saturday that he would not be commenting until after he has reached a deal. The soonest players can sign is Tuesday.
After learning Saturday that Allen definitely wouldn't be back, the Vikings on Sunday re-signed defensive end Everson Griffen to a five-year, $42.5 million contract. He is expected to take over Allen's starting spot on the right side.
“Jared Allen is one of the greatest guys I've ever played with,” said Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway. “I enjoyed playing with him. He's a guy that gave everything all the time. He'll be successful whatever he does, wherever he goes, and whatever role he plays there.”
Allen joined the Vikings in 2008 after four years with Kansas City. In his six seasons, he made four Pro Bowls and three times was named first-team All-Pro. He led the NFL with 22 sacks in 2011, tied for the second-highest total in NFL history. Of his 128.5 career sacks — 12th on the all-time list — 85.5 came with Minnesota.
“Jared carried on the tradition with the Vikings' defensive line,” said Randle, a defensive tackle who is joined in Canton, Ohio, by Minnesota defensive linemen Alan Page, Carl Eller and Chris Doleman. “They've always been known for having a great defensive line. The way (Allen) played, he always got the fans involved. I always admired Jared and loved the way he played.”
Allen, the highest-paid player on the Vikings last season at $14.3 million, showed some signs of slippage. But after a disappointing start, he rebounded to get 6.5 sacks in his final five games to finish with 11.5, his seventh straight double-digit season total.
Allen talked openly about seeking sacks. While former Vikings defensive lineman Bob Lurtsema spoke highly of Allen as a player, he said his one weakness was sometimes being too concerned about getting them.
“He really had a natural instinct and a God-given talent to rush the passer,” said Lurtsema, who played with the Vikings from 1971-76. “His motor was going all the time. But sometimes, I must honestly say, he got a little too wrapped up with simply wanting a sack. How do you say something negative about what he did? But inside the 10-yard line, you've got to be very disciplined to stay in your lane.”
Allen might not be the only long-time Vikings defensive lineman to leave the team this offseason. Defensive tackle Kevin Williams also is a free agent, and it remains to be seen whether or not the 11-year veteran will return.