EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Jared Allen waited through Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline and wondered about his future with the Minnesota Vikings just like everyone else.
Allen wasn’t sure if he would be traded to another team in the final season of the six-year contract he signed with Minnesota after being acquired in 2008. The Vikings reportedly did get involved in trade talks for the five-time Pro Bowl defensive end, but ended up holding on to Allen for the remainder of this season.
“I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say I didn’t (watch) to see what was going on,” Allen said Wednesday. “I understand this business. I truly do. There’s no hard feelings. Obviously, I’ve talked with (general manager Rick Spielman) and (vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski) and we’re all on the same page. I understand where we’re at in the season. As a matter of fact, I take it as a sign of respect that they still think I have value.
“But I’m excited to be a Viking. I really am. I’m excited to try to right this ship, and I’m all in. I understand where we’re going; and again, I don’t even know how serious it was. They never called me. I was never like borderline getting ready to go anywhere.”
One reason for the speculation is because Allen is in the final season of his contract and the Vikings are 1-6 heading into Sunday’s game at Dallas. There were reasons to believe a deal wouldn’t be done, too. Allen is owed more than $7 million on his contract for the remainder of the season and Minnesota should be in line for a compensatory pick if Allen leaves in the offseason through free agency.
Allen said he was never approached about trades and coach Leslie Frazier said he wasn’t brought into any trade conversations.
“If there are conversations going on, I don’t know about them unless it gets to a point where it gets very serious or something,” Frazier said.
Frazier said he wasn’t concerned about the possibility of losing Allen from his struggling defense via trade, but did talk with Allen on Wednesday after the deadline had passed.
“We just shared a conversation about all the talk and he reinforced what I already knew: that he’s happy he’s here in Minnesota, he’d like to finish his career here in Minnesota, and he couldn’t control the rumors and things that were being said,” Frazier said. “I understood that, but he’s thrilled to be here.”
Allen has been appreciative of the management with the Vikings, particularly this offseason when he wasn’t approached about renegotiating his contract. Allen entered the final season of his contract set to make a base salary of $14.28 million. Minnesota did renegotiate the deals for defensive tackle Kevin Williams and tight end John Carlson and had to release cornerback Antoine Winfield in a cost-cutting move.
Allen said he’s talked with Spielman since the deadline passed. He will be with the Vikings the rest of this season, but isn’t sure what the future might hold.
“Honestly, I cross bridges when they come to me,” Allen said. “I have a great relationship with Rick and Rob and Coach Frazier and (assistant general manager George Paton) and everybody here. I have great relationships. So, there’s zero animosity, zero anything, but just like with all the trade rumors weeks and weeks ago, I don’t even deal with it until it comes. Even yesterday, I’m getting text messages from all these media people. I said, ‘I don’t know, I’m watching TV like the rest of y’all. I’ll deal with that bridge if it happens.’ … The end of the year will take care of itself, and I’m sure at the end of the year when it’s all said and done, I’ll sit down with Rick and Rob and we’ll all have an honest conversation of where we’re at, what we want to plan on doing, and whatever happens will happen then.”
Allen said he’s focused on improvement following what he called the “worst defensive performance I’d ever been a part of” in last week’s loss to Green Bay. He said there will be a “drastic” difference this week facing the Cowboys.
The Packers put up 464 yards of offense, were 13 of 18 on third down and never had to punt. Allen said he didn’t watch film of the Green Bay loss, saying it’s the type of tape “you light on fire. Pray it’s an anomaly.”
“I told you, I got my butt whooped,” Allen said. “We got our butt whooped on Sunday. It’s embarrassing, I don’t like being embarrassed and I take ownership for it. I feel like I need to get better. When you hear all this stuff, you feel like you don’t love what you’ve got until it’s almost taken away… I’ve been here six years and even the thought of yesterday having to leave was, you’re kind of like, thinking logistics, if this did happen, I’ve got to get my family here…and I love the Vikings, I really do .I’ve put heart and soul into this place for six years, I want to win here. I love these fans here, we haven’t played good at home yet. We’ve gotten our butts kicked for three home games and they don’t deserve that. They support us on and off the field, I feel like we owe them more. I owe my teammates more, I owe my coaching staff more.”
He’ll have his chance now that he’s staying, for sure.
Cassel accepting his role: While Frazier hasn’t announced who will start at quarterback, he did say earlier this week it wouldn’t be veteran Matt Cassel, who led Minnesota to its only win of the season in Week 4.
Cassel signed with the Vikings to back up Christian Ponder, but was forced in after Ponder fractured a rib. But the team is going away from Cassel, despite the success in the win against Pittsburgh.
“The situation is what it is,” Cassel said. “Unfortunately, I don’t make the decisions. But at the same time, coach Frazier and whoever is making the decisions, decided to go this direction. And as a player you might not always agree with it, but you accept it, you move forward and you continue to work hard. Like I said, you have a choice, anytime adversity comes our way as players, we have a choice to feel sorry for ourself, become a distraction, or you can continue to work, be professional, do what you’re paid to do and that’s my choice, to continue to try to help this team win.”
Cassel was 16 of 25 passing for 248 yards and two touchdowns to beat the Steelers in London. But the following week, he threw two interceptions and was 32 of 44 for 241 yards.
Asked what he could have done differently with his opportunity to start, Cassel said: “I think win the Carolina game, obviously. I think if we would have played better, more consistently. There were a lot of good things that happened in that game. Obviously with the two interceptions, anytime you have two interceptions and it has an impact on the game, then that’s our job as a quarterback to take care of the ball. I think if I could take anything back from that game, obviously it would be trying to pull that ball down on the first one and on the second one as well.”
Patterson earns NFC honor: Rookie Cordarrelle Patterson set an NFL record on Sunday with a 109-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and now he’s been honored for the achievement. Patterson was named the NFC’s special teams player of the week on Wednesday.
Patterson had five returns for 228 yards on Sunday. He leads the NFL with a 39.1-yard kickoff-return average and is the only player with two returns for touchdowns this season. He had a 105-yard return for a touchdown in the second game of the season.
“It’s a great reward for me,” Patterson said. “I really don’t pay attention to it. I just try to come in and build my confidence up every day in practice and try to get better.”
Patterson was named the special teams player of the month for September after leading the league in kickoff returns, becoming only the second return man in Vikings’ history to win the monthly award along with Percy Harvin.
Patterson joined Harvin, Aundrae Allison and Moe Williams as the only Minnesota returners to win special teams play of the week honors.
Jennings sits out: Receiver Greg Jennings was added to the Vikings’ injury report on Wednesday and sat out of practice with a knee injury. Frazier, who addressed the media earlier in the day, didn’t mention what Jennings’ injury was.
Minnesota was also without Matt Asiata (shoulder), Chris Cook (hip), Rhett Ellison (ankle), Jamarca Sanford (groin) and Fred Evans (knee) on Wednesday. Asiata was away from the team, as well, after the death of his father on Tuesday in a bus accident.
Frazier did express some concern with the injuries to Cook and Sanford, depleting the secondary even further.
“With defensive backs, when you have muscle issues it’s always a concern,” Frazier said. “So, I’m hoping because we need them. I’m hoping that they’ll get through this. But with muscles and defensive backs or receivers, it’s always a concern.”