Jared Allen stays in the NFC North, signs with Chicago Bears

As Jared Allen's free-agency tour moved at a snail's pace, even with a ridiculous notion tossed around that he might retire, the Chicago Bears were never strongly mentioned as a suitor.

That's why it was surprising for almost everyone to wake up to the news that Allen had signed a four-year deal with the Bears between Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, two weeks after free agency began. CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora reported it's a four-year, $32 million deal that can void to three years and $24 million, with $15.5 million guaranteed. Allen comes from Minnesota and completes a round of NFC North musical chairs, after Julius Peppers was cut by Chicago and signed with Green Bay.

It's a strong move by the Bears, who had poured a ton of money into the defensive line already, signing ends Lamarr Houston, Willie Young and Israel Idonije. Now they have another end who can rush the quarterback. Allen's 128.5 sacks are the most by any player over the last 10 years.

Allen was on the market a long time for a player of his caliber, drawing the most interest from the Seahawks. He has posted double-digit sacks each of the past seven seasons, including 11.5 last year. He's remarkably durable, having not missed a game since 2007, and played 1,083 snaps last year (according to Pro Football Focus), third most among 4-3 ends. The problem might be all those games and snaps. He'll turn 32 on April 3, and his age was the reason he was on the market a long time compared to many less productive but younger ends who got huge deals in the first few days of free agency. He was reportedly looking for a deal in the $10 million-per-year range, but despite his résumé he couldn't find a team to give that to him. But now Allen has landed with the Bears, and he might be an upgrade over Peppers, who looked pretty sluggish last year and just turned 34.

The Bears had a pretty good season last year despite having a horrendous defense. They were serious about improving that defense this offseason. And in the middle of the night, they added a final big piece that makes them very scary in the NFC North.


- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

What to Read Next