With Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen reportedly being on the trading block, the important question to consider is simple.
Which teams can afford him?
The short answer to that is among teams in contention, only Green Bay, Philadelphia and Cincinnati could trade for Allen without restructuring their salary cap situation. However, Denver and New England could make a move for Allen by moving cash around. Beyond those teams, any deal for Allen would likely have to include him either taking a cut in pay or agreeing to a new long-term deal.
Both of those scenarios would be difficult to negotiate between now and the Tuesday trade deadline.
Allen, 31, is due to make $7.56 million for the remaining nine weeks of the NFL season. This is the final year of a six-year deal Allen agreed to when he was traded to the Vikings in 2008.
Green Bay is approximately $10.2 million under the salary cap, Philadelphia is $17 million under and Cincinnati is $8.4 million under.
Of those three, a deal between Green Bay and the Vikings seems odd to imagine. The two are long-time rivals. Beyond that, Green Bay General Manager Ted Thompson rarely gives up draft picks. In 2010, Thompson refused to give up a fourth-round pick to get Buffalo running back Marshawn Lynch, who was instead traded to Seattle. Thompson was proved right when the Packers won the Super Bowl without Lynch.
Cincinnati also seems unlikely to deal for Allen because the Bengals are set along the defensive line with Carlos Dunlap, Michael Johnson, Geno Atkins and Domata Peko. As for Philadelphia, the Eagles are 3-5 and in more of a rebuilding mode under coach Chip Kelly.
That leaves Denver and New England. They have $6.7 million and $5.9 million in cap room, respectively. Those teams could, theoretically, restructure contracts of existing players to fit Allen under the salary cap for the rest of the season without having to give him a new contract.
For Denver, the obvious move would be to restructure quarterback Peyton Manning’s contract again. The team did that in May, giving Manning a $10 million salary advance and leaving him with a $15 million base salary for this season. If the Broncos guaranteed another $4 million to Manning, they could reduce his cap number enough to fit Allen.
The Broncos make the most logical sense because they are currently using former linebacker Shaun Phillips at right defensive end. Allen would be an upgrade and would allow the Broncos to use Phillips as a sub in multiple spots. More importantly, Allen would pair well with linebacker Von Miller, who usually lines up on the left side of the defense, opposite where Allen plays.
Former Denver right defensive end Elvis Dumervil benefitted from playing opposite Miller. Dumervil had 20.5 sacks in two seasons playing with Miller.
As for New England, the Patriots currently have talented young defensive end Chandler Jones on the right side and would like have to shift Jones to make room for Allen.
On Sunday night, NBC sideline reporter Michele Tafoya reported that Vikings owner Zygi Wilf called the report of a possible trade “baloney” and that the Vikings planned to keep Allen. The initial report of Allen being on the block came from FOX reporter Jay Glazer.
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