The exact details of every conversation will remain private, as they should. But the chain of events that led to Jared Allen being traded from the Bears to the Carolina Panthers, which began with Allen’s frank self-assessment, produced a result that benefited all parties involved. Usually a "good" deal is one where everyone leaves the table a teeny bit grumpy, feeling they could've done a little better. Not this one.
The Allen trade was less a case of the Bears dumping a veteran player as part of some rebuilding process of reshaping their roster than the organization doing the right thing for the player, itself and even another NFC team. (The Bears weren't being stupid, though; they certainly wouldn't have traded Allen to Detroit or Minnesota but someone they'd be seeing this year.)
FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer, who broke the initial trade story, spoke with Allen and reported via Twitter that Allen was happy to be putting his hand down again, meaning returning to his familiar 4-3 spot of edge rusher. But there was more:
"That's really the big thing for me,” Glazer reported from Allen. “I'm not a standup outside ‘backer, but I told Foxie (coach John Fox) and Ryan (Pace, general manager) I would even put weight on if they wanted me to in order to play that 3-4 end. I didn't want to leave Foxie and Ryan, love those guys. But in the end they knew I didn't fit, so this worked out best."
Indeed, far from the Bears looking to unload Allen, it was Allen who brought up the obvious ("I'm not a standup outside 'backer") in the wake of the loss to the Seattle Seahawks, in which he’d too often been sealed inside on Seattle runs outside, reacting like a 4-3 defensive end rather than a 3-4 outside linebacker.
For their part, sources told CSNChicago.com that the Bears in fact might have gotten a little more than the sixth-round pick that the Panthers gave them for Allen. But the fit for Allen was a consideration in the process, and obviously it was going to be a 4-3 team and obviously not a cellar-dweller at this point of his career.
And that 4-3 team turned out to be the Panthers and coach Ron Rivera, an undefeated team suddenly confronted with the loss of starting defensive end Charles Johnson to a hamstring injury. Enter: Allen.
A team with a need. A player who fit that need and was up front about not fitting his own team’s. And a team with a surplus at the position.