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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Zulgad’s three-and-out: Allen trade proved to be well worth the investment for Vikings

By Judd Zulgad

The 2008 NFL draft was approaching when a source from Winter Park called to relay a conversation they had overheard. It involved Vikings executives excitedly discussing the ability to acquire a player but it was clear a decision had to come quickly.

The source wondered aloud who the heck the brass might be talking about. The hope was the reporter on the other end of the phone might have the ability to find out.

The answer came a few days later and, truth be told, it was far bigger than anyone could have expected.

Defensive end Jared Allen, who had led the NFL with 15.5 sacks in 2007, was traded to the Vikings by Kansas City for a first-round pick in 2008, along with two third-round selections.

But dealing high draft picks for Allen was only part of the process.

Allen had become disgruntled in Kansas City and wanted no part of signing a long-term deal with a rebuilding organization. He did, however, want a rich, long-term contract.

The Vikings were more than willing to write that check, giving Allen a six-year deal that was worth more than $74 million, if he reached certain incentives, and included $31 million in guarantees. The contract made Allen the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL at the time and came with plenty of risk.

Allen had served a two-game suspension in 2007 for multiple drunk-driving convictions and another arrest could have meant a year-long suspension.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs took Branden Albert, who turned into their starting left tackle for six seasons, with the 17th-overall pick, and used one of the third-round picks on running back Jamaal Charles, who became the franchise’s all-time leader in rushing yards.

Nonetheless, as the eccentric Allen announced his retirement on Thursday, he literally tried to ride off into the sunset on an overcast day, it’s safe to say the Vikings would make the exact same move again if given the opportunity.

Allen’s acquisition finally gave the Vikings the long-sought-after pass-rushing right end they had been lacking for so many years. The final straw came in 2007, when the interior dominance of defensive tackles Kevin and Pat Williams helped the Vikings lead the NFL against the run, but the lack of a rush caused them to finish last against the pass.

The acquisition of Allen was instrumental in the Vikings’ building the team that went 12-4 and managed to get to the 2009 NFC title game. He had 14.5 sacks in 2008 and 2009, respectively, and never dipped below double figures in six seasons in Minnesota. His 22 sacks in 2011, put him a half-sack behind Michael Strahan’s single-season record set in 2001.

Allen retires with 85.5 of his 136 career sacks having come as a member of the Vikings. He is tied with the Packers’ Julius Peppers for ninth among the NFL’s all-time leaders in sacks.

Allen had his on-the-field faults.

There were moments when it appeared his only interest was getting to the quarterback – even when a run play already had the ball headed elsewhere – and his unwillingness to leave the field went from seeming admirable to downright stubborn.

But the Vikings have no complaints.

Allen was as tough as they come and played through numerous injuries, never missing a start in his time with the Vikings. He turned out to be exactly what the defense needed and his presence was a big reason the franchise made three playoff appearances in his six years.

Now that Allen has decided to retire, after stops in Chicago and Carolina, it should be only a matter of time before his name is added to the Vikings Ring of Honor.

Problem solved?

The Good Ship Wild return home this weekend after scoring 15 goals in wins against three bad teams (Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton) and ready to play host to a Stadium Series game on Sunday against the Chicago Blackhawks at TCF Bank Stadium.

Like police at the scene of an accident who keep telling gawkers, “there’s nothing to see here,” the Wild seem desperate to make everyone forget just how poorly they played for coach Mike Yeo in January and for much of February.

A complete no-show in an embarrassing 4-2 loss to Boston last Saturday at Xcel Energy Center got what seemed to be the desired result of many players.

Yeo was fired after the game and the more upbeat John Torchetti was promoted from Iowa of the AHL. So less than a week later, it appears we are supposed to believe everything is fine because Wild players are acting like they care again?

Give me a break.

The Stadium Series game will be fun, and if this team actually re-engages on a full-time basis that will be an improvement for the fans who pay the big ticket prices at the X, but don’t give this team a pass when it comes to the big picture.

It was dysfunction that caused the Wild to go into their annual midseason nosedive under Yeo, and unless everyone now believes that Yeo was a terrible coach (I’m not buying that), the dysfunction is still there waiting to rear its ugly head at another inopportune moment.

If the decision-makers at the X have any interest in this franchise ever competing for a Stanley Cup, and not just playing for their postseason lives late in the season, they have to take a long look at this roster and find out why when things get difficult so many players seem willing to disappear.

Until that issue is addressed, the Wild will be nothing more than a team hoping to get a wild card berth each spring and a collection that is more than content to go out of the postseason long before the big boys are done.

You’ll get a Kick(s) out of this

So let me get this straight. The MLS already has a team named the United that is based in Washington, D.C. The Atlanta expansion team, which will join the league in 2017, also is going to go by United.

Thus, there are reports the MLS wants the Minnesota United to change their name before they join the league, probably in 2017. This apparently has Minnesota fans upset.

Here’s a solution. How about the Minnesota team goes along with the MLS’s request and changes its names to the Kicks? Yes, the name of the original professional soccer team in this state, which played its game at the Met Stadium starting in the 1970s.

There long has been a gripe here that the Wild is a lousy name for Minnesota’s pro hockey team and that it would be great to be able to get the North Stars name and logo back.

Unless, the name Kicks has been taken by someone, or is unavailable, why not have the Minnesota MLS franchise pay tribute to the pro team that came so many years before them? Update the logo, sell both the old and new merchandise, and allow Minnesota fans to indulge in some nostalgia.

There is little doubt Minnesota sports fans would eat it up. More importantly, they would buy the merchandise.

The post Zulgad’s three-and-out: Allen trade proved to be well worth the investment for Vikings appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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