The Bears needed to revamp their defensive line after how atrocious it was last season and they did that by adding Lamarr Houston and Willie Young. Then they swung back through and signed Israel Idonije to add some depth.
Those moves were solid-but-unspectacular in some regard, and critics wondered where the sacks would come from by the Bears signing defensive linemen known more as "well-rounded" than sack accumulators.
Enter Jared Allen. When the Bears announced they had agreed with him on a four-year contract, Bears nation celebrated. Here was the missing piece. In addition to signing some younger guys who have sack-generating potential and have proved themselves worthy in run defense, the team had now added a pass-rushing specialist who may not have it in the run defense department but can get after the QB like few can.
Surely this move is a unit-altering one if there is one. Heck, even Steve Rosenbloom, who has been known to be called "Rosendoom" for his less-than-rosy outlooks on Chicago sports, has the Bears as Super Bowl contenders with Allen in the fold.
But let's set down the Jared Allen calf-roping mullet juice for a second and step back and assess the situation.
Allen turns 32 years old next week. The Bears brass, both Phil Emery and Marc Trestman, have talked at length about wanting to make the team younger. This move seems counterproductive to that, even if Allen is generally seen as a switch out for Julius Peppers, who is two years older than Allen.
Only eight players have had consecutive seasons of 10 or more sacks after age 32; John Abraham, Chris Doleman, William Fuller, Kevin Greene, Rickey Jackson, Bruce Smith, Jason Taylor and Reggie White. Even among those players only four of them did it at ages 32 and 33.
The Bears could be getting Allen at the beginning of his downward slope.
The fellas over at CBS Chicago looked at some of the charts from Profootballfocus.com which also shows that, despite the big sack numbers that Allen had last year, his game beyond the stats took a big hit. Look at the chart in this tweet:
Jared Allen, year-by-year pic.twitter.com/I75DZGFHTC— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) March 26, 2014
It looks awfully similar to Julius Peppers' grade last year.
I want to be as wrong about Allen as anyone, but the fact remains that the Bears may not get the player they are paying for. In free agency it's very much a "buyer beware" situation, so just beware.