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Bears over Seahawks? Jared Allen takes a leap of faith: ‘This team is closer than people think’
Some GMs have all the luck. The Bulls can’t entice a superstar to play with Derrick Rose. But somehow Bears general manager Phil Emery just convinced Jared Allen — the best pass rusher in the NFL over the last eight years — to turn down the best defense in the NFL to join the third worst.
A week ago Allen reportedly had agreed to terms with the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. But it was premature and in a flash, the Bears negotiated a deal with Allen, who had 11.5 sacks with the Minnesota Vikings last season and is 12th on the NFL’s all-time sack list with 128.5.
Why would a defensive player whose top priority is to win a Super Bowl choose the Bears over the Seahawks? Was it just money? Or is there something Allen sees in the Bears — maybe they’re closer to winning a Super Bowl than people think.
‘‘Absolutely I think this team is closer than people think,’’ Allen said Monday at Halas Hall. ‘‘Don’t get me wrong — Seattle’s a great team. They’ve got a lot of great parts. They’re also in a crazy good division where the 49ers are no joke out there, either. But neither are the Bears.’’
Relishing the opportunity to play with the lead, Allen said the Bears’ offense was a major lure. But he also saw potential for growth in a defense that finished 30th the NFL in total yards and last in sacks.
‘‘I knew the parts of this defense,’’ said Allen, who played the Bears twice a season in his six years with the Vikings. ‘‘I know Jay [Jeremiah] Ratliff — if he’s healthy, he’s a best. An absolute best. And they brought in [defensive end Lamarr] Houston. Watching some of the tape everyone was showing on Houston, you see, ‘Wow, this kid’s got some technique.’ He was hidden in Oakland for some years. [Tim] Jennings, I’ve watched that guy pick more balls than I can imagine.’’
The Seahawks offered the opportunity to play for Pete Carroll and the top-ranked defense in the NFL. But he would have been part of a rotation in Seattle. In Chicago, he’ll play as many snaps as he wants.
‘‘It came down to fit,’’ Allen said. ‘‘There was a great opportunity [with the Seahawks], but you never know who’s going to win the Super Bowl. If you had a [crystal] ball, and I could say ‘This team is going to win the Super Bowl,’ of course, everybody would jump on that bandwagon.’’
Still, you don’t need a crystal ball to know that the Seahawks are closer to the Super Bowl today than the Bears.
‘‘What attracted me here is the opportunity to go out and win it, to earn it, and be part of it and be a piece of that puzzle,’’ Allen said. ‘‘Like I’ve always said, things have to line up. It has to be the right place, great for my family. Obviously you want a fair contract. And everything line up. My agent always tells me, ‘God gave us eyes in the front of our head to look forward, not to look back.’ So when everything lined up, there was no doubt — Chicago was the place to be.
‘‘[No disrespect] to the Seahawks organization and all the other great organizations we talked to. But this was the best fit for myself, my family and what I see in the future going forward — it’s a chance to win.’’