I caught up with Jared Allen yesterday for a lockout piece we're working on for next week.
"I'm trying to kill me a rat," Allen said from the backyard of his home in Scottsdale, Ariz.
He was talking rat in the literal sense. Ah, the glamorous life of a $75-million All-Pro defensive end.
With some down time in the NFL, Allen has been lifting, mountain biking and doing his MMA training to stay in shape. He's also been focused on his foundation, Jared Allen's Homes for Wounded Warriors, and went bear hunting in northern Idaho.
"I let a couple of the little ones go," Allen said of the bears. "I was going for the big daddy, but didn't get him."
I had the chance to ask Allen about the Vikings' other starting defensive end, Ray Edwards. It certainly appears Edwards' days in Minnesota are over. If Edwards isn't declared an unrestricted free agency for 2011, he has said he won't play for the restricted free agent tender of $2.8 million. He also said he wouldn't play here for less than the three-year $14.6 million deal that his backup, Brian Robison recently got.
"It's not my place to get involved," Allen said. "Management will do what it’s got to do. Ray will do what he’s got to do. I can say Ray’s a good player. A vital part of the defensive line.
"I know I was in his position in Kansas City. Unfortunately, management was different in Kansas City than it is in Minnesota."
The big difference, of course, is Allen was coming off a season in which he led the NFL with 15 1/2 sacks. The Chiefs were reluctant to pay him, so they dealt him to the Vikings, who gave Allen a monster contract that he's lived up to. He has 40 sacks in three seasons. He had 28 sacks while notching back-to-back first-team All-Pro seasons in 2008-09.
"Is Ray deserving of a big contract? I think he’s deserving of a contract," Allen said. "So management will do what they feel is best for the team and Ray will do what he feels is best for himself in his career. And then you go from there. That’s just the business side of things. You got one shot to make as much money as you can to retire off of. You can’t blame the guy for trying to get everything he’s worth, especially if there’s guys who are making more money for him."
Edwards said he has faith in Robison, the younger defensive ends and the coaching staff.
"Brian’s obviously a good player," Allen said. "He’s a versatile guy who can play inside and out. He hasn’t started throughout his career, so it’s a little different. But brian has the will, and wants to get better. He’s a heck of an athlete."
That doesn't mean Allen isn't nervous about losing Edwards. Although Edwards hasn't had a double-digit sack season yet, he had eight last season and 8 1/2 in 2009. Including the 2009 playoffs, he had 12 1/2 sacks that season.
"Ray has a presence on that field, so it makes it a little easier for me," Allen said. "If ray doesn’t show up, I’m sure I’ll see a few more double teams than I already see. ... But I also think that's one position we'll be OK at."