The Bears’ 0-3 start and the Carolina Panthers’ 3-0 beginning to the 2015 season converged on Monday when the Panthers traded to obtain Jared Allen, returning the veteran defensive end to his more familiar 4-3 scheme under Carolina coach Ron Rivera in return for a sixth-round draft choice.
The deal, first reported by FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer, gives Allen a chance to play for a playoff contender and nets the Bears something in return for an aging veteran who clearly was not a long-term fit with the team under coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.
“We had some depth at the linebacker position and were able to reach an agreement with the Panthers to bring a 2016 draft pick to our team in exchange for Jared Allen,” GM Ryan Pace said in a statement Monday. “Whether it is acquiring additional picks or signing players, we will continue to be aggressive in finding ways to improve our football team.
“We appreciate Jared’s contributions and wish him the best in Carolina.”
Allen had made some progress converting to an outside linebacker in the Bears’ 3-4 defense, starting all three games this season. But he had yet to register a sack, had only six total tackles through three games and just three quarterback hits/pressures. He did have the Bears’ lone interception this season but did not have the consistent impact that he did in his career as a right end in a 4-3 scheme.
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The deal concludes a disappointing tenure for one of the NFL’s all-time sack leaders and one of the more expensive contract boondoggles by the organization. Former GM Phil Emery signed Allen in the 2014 offseason to a deal that included a guaranteed $11.5 million for 2015. Allen delivered a career-low 5.5 sacks during last year’s defensive debacle and had not shown flashes to indicate he had returned to his form of past years.
The Bears also have a glut of players in the Allen mold – Sam Acho, Lamarr Houston, Pernell McPhee, Willie Young – and Allen does not contribute on special teams.
The Panthers, however, are tied atop with the Atlanta Falcons with 3-0 records. They have just seven sacks through three games, none by starting right end Kony Ealy, who was benched for disciplinary reasons for the start of Sunday’s win over New Orleans.
Allen is expected to be a situational pass rusher, with Ealy sliding inside to tackle in nickel situations. Starting left end Charles Johnson went down with a hamstring strain on Sunday and is expected to miss time with the injury.