Hartman: Uncertain future for Vikings defensive core

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 15, 2013 - 12:22 AM

Jared Allen and Kevin Williams are free agents after starring together on the Vikings D-line for six seasons.

The Vikings were successful in signing defensive end Brian Robison, one of their many players who were up for free agency after the season, to a four-year, $28 million contract extension last month, with $13 million guaranteed.

They tried to sign defensive lineman Everson Griffen, another standout who will be a free agent at the end of this year, without success. Griffen apparently wants to wait until the end of the season and check out the market.

Meanwhile, the word from good sources is that the Vikings want to sign another potential free agent in Jared Allen, but the great defensive end said he hasn’t been approached.

Allen, who has been with the Vikings since 2008, makes it clear that he would like to stay here.

One of the teams that might be interested in Griffen is Seattle, where coach Pete Carroll coached Griffen in college at Southern California. And the Seahawks, like a lot of NFL teams, are likely to at least talk to Allen.

Allen talked Thursday about how it’s fun to play at Seattle because the fans make it such a tough environment, especially now that the Seahawks are on such a winning streak, having won their past 12 games there.

“It makes it fun,” Allen said. “You hate playing, no offense to Jacksonville or a team like that, but you go down there and the crowd is empty and the fans feel like they’re 100 yards away.

“But you go to Seattle and it’s loud and trash-talking, that’s the way it’s supposed to be. So those kind of environments are fun to play in, and especially going down there and if you can get a win in there, it makes it that much sweeter. They always talk about tough environments to play, it’s just loud. Their fans aren’t going to come on the field and attack you or anything.”

Speaking of winning, Allen and veteran defensive tackle Kevin Williams were a big part of the victory over Washington last week.

“That was fun,” Allen said. “We have to keep that going. The part of it is getting a lead, part of it is being successful on early downs. It’s hard to do that stuff if you’re losing the game.

“When you have a lead at the end, you can do some things … [you can] be able to come out in the second half and get after it on first and second down.”

Allen looks for the Seattle game to go the same way.

“We have to be good on first and second down,” Allen said. “If you let Seattle play in that third-and-2-to-4-or-5 area, it’s going to be a long day for us, and we’re going to come back here with our heads hung wondering what the heck happened. So you just have to be good and try to force them to be one-dimensional. If they’re a balanced football team, it is not good. Then it is a hostile environment.”

Praise for Williams

Allen was asked how it felt to see Williams have such a big game and look like the Kevin Williams of old last week against Washington. Williams, in his 11th season with the Vikings, is also slated to become a free agent at the end of the year.

“Kevin is one of the best friends that I’ve ever had in this league,” Allen said. “He is a guy that just comes to work. I know, when I first came here knowing what him and Pat [Williams] were doing, and coming to play with quality D tackles like that, I was excited. But to see their work ethic and their competitiveness amongst each other, that whole D-line room when I first got here was contagious.

“It forced you to step your game up and forced you to practice better. because I was in direct competition with him, on obviously a friendly level. But Kevin is one of those guys who doesn’t say a lot, so when he does say something, you listen.

‘‘He’s a guy that I look up to not only in his personal life and the way he conducts himself from being a father and a husband to just his overall morals and values, sometimes you meet somebody and they align; everything kind of aligns with how you want to live your life. That’s what Kevin is. I think he is a rock in this locker room. He’s a model of consistency year in and year out. He has his opinions, and a lot of times he doesn’t voice them until it gets to a point where it needs to be voiced.”

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