By Eric Schmidt

Minnesota Vikings DE Jared Allen is one of the biggest names on this year’s free agency market. The prolific pass rusher will likely see a windfall in the open market. One reporter from ESPN speculates that the Vikings will move on from Allen, unless he agrees to a significantly reduced salary. One team that might be interested in Allen, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Tampa Bay cleaned house with the coaching staff after a disappointing 2013 season. Gone is Greg Schiano, replaced by Lovie Smith. Smith tabbed former Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier as the Buccaneers defensive coordinator. Frazier knows what Allen is capable of doing on the field after coaching him the last two seasons.

Since joining the Vikings in 2008, Allen has recorded double digit sacks, with a career high of 22 coming in 2011. Allen will turn 32 in April of this year, but shows no signs of slowing down.

Although the Buccaneers improved their sacks numbers in 2013, the outside pass rush from the defensive end position has under achieved. Last year, Tampa allowed Michael Bennett to depart via free agency, and he finds himself playing in the Super Bowl this weekend. Adrian Clayborn recorded six sacks while DE Da’Quan Bowers was a risky selection when he was drafted, but has been a disappointment on the field, logging just one sack last season.

DT Gerald McCoy continues to elevate his game and recorded a career high nine sacks in 2013. Pair him with Allen on the defensive line could be a devastating combination for opposing offensive lines to defend.

Lovie Smith is a defensive minded coach and wants to employ the Tampa-2 scheme. In order for that alignment to be effective, the defense has to pressure opposing quarterbacks.

Just as Frazier might want to bring in one of his former players, Lovie Smith might pull a few from his former team, the Chicago Bears. One rumor suggests CB Charles “Peanut” Tillman might be on the team’s radar. The addition of Allen and Tillman would make the Buccaneers defense a serious force for 2014.

Where would the money come from? I fully expect wholesale changes on the Buccaneers offensive line next season. Offensive guard Davin Joseph could be asked to re-structure his salary. The former Pro Bowler is slated to earn $6 million in 2014 and will be 31 next season. Carl Nicks‘ future remains in doubt. After inking a five-year $47 million dollar contract, he has appeared in just 9 games for the Buccaneers. He’s on tap for seven million in 2014 while Jamon Meredith played well in his absence.

OT Donald Penn, who has struggled with weight issues most of his career. He’ll turn 31 in April and is looking at $6.75 million in salary next season. Walterfootball.com suggests the Buccaneers could target OT Jake Matthews out of Texas A&M with their first-round selection in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Allen will generate a lot of interest on the open market. It’s just possible that Allen might want to play for his old coach once again and lean towards the Buccaneers in free agency. I’m sure the Tampa fans would welcome him with open arms.

 

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