I thought the Bears were going to be set at defensive end after signing LaMarr Houston and Willie Young, to go with Shea McClellin as an outside linebacker who rushes off the edge in sub packages. However, I guess they decided they needed to add another starting defensive end. I don’t necessarily disagree. Maybe they think McClellin won’t be able to contribute much. Maybe they are planning on having LaMarr Houston play even more defensive tackle now that Henry Melton is gone. Maybe they aren’t completely sold on Willie Young as an every down defensive end.
My disagreement here is with the price. They are paying extra here for name value and past production. Age 30+ pass rushers are being overpaid this off-season. First DeMarcus Ware gets 30 million over 3 years, with 20 million over 2 years guaranteed. Then Julius Peppers got 30 million over 3 years, though with only 8.5 million over the first season guaranteed. This deal (4 years, 32 million with 15.5 million over 2 years guaranteed) is actually even worse than those two deals, as bad as those two deals were. Jared Allen is not as good as DeMarcus Ware and the guaranteed money is much more than Julius Peppers got.
Jared Allen is going into his age 32 season and on the decline. He graded out below average on Pro Football Focus last season, after grading out positive in 2008-2013 (Pro Football Focus doesn’t have data before 2008), and he’s probably not getting any better any time soon. Sure, he had 13 sacks last season, but you can’t rely on pure on sack numbers. He had 18 quarterback hits and 34 quarterback hurries, but he did that on 677 pass rush snaps. His pass rush productivity (sacks + .75 hits + .75 hurries divided by pass rush snaps played) was 36th out of 52 eligible 4-3 defensive ends last season.
As he ages, he won’t be able to play nearly every snap as he usually does and his sack numbers will go down significantly. He’ll also probably become less efficient. I’d be shocked if he had double digit sacks in either of the next two seasons, rotating with Houston, Young, and McClellin. Given that they’re going to be paying him 15.5 million over the next 2 seasons (3 million in 2014 and 12.5 million in 2015), this deal is a big overpay. The Bears had been having a very solid off-season to this point, but I think they jumped the gun here on this signing.