LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The prospect of landing Jared Allen and his 128.5 career regular-season sacks forced the Bears to treat the pursuit of the free-agent defensive end like a covert operation.
The Bears, like most NFL teams, try to limit the amount of contract information that reaches the media. However, the organization took its top secret approach to a new level with Allen, who ultimately signed a deal that contained $15.5 million worth of guaranteed money.
“It was a little bit right out of a movie,” general manager Phil Emery said Monday at Halas Hall. “It was very quiet. Just to give you a little aside; [Allen's agent] Ken Harris came to the hotel at the NFL owners' meetings [in Orlando, Fla.]. We knew for it to remain silent we couldn't have anybody see us meet or shake hands.
"We met at night away from the hotel. Ken had come to meet us and we were standing out facing the parking lot and [ESPN's] John Clayton came up to [Bears contract negotiator] Cliff Stein to shake his hand. Fortunately, John's back was to Ken who was walking up to say hi to me, and I grabbed Ken and pulled him around a post [to avoid detection].”
Emery explained why the Bears felt it necessary to be clandestine about the Allen contract negotiation.
“It does make difference on any contract situation because you've removed the pressure of other situations," Emery said. “The fact we were able to do this quietly removed [other team's abilities to] counter. We were the right fit and we were going to continue to push it through without it getting out in the media to allow teams to counter while we were trying to work out an agreement.”
Allen is the 28th player the Bears have signed since the week before the final regular-season game of 2013 versus the Green Bay Packers. Whatever negotiating tactics the Bears have used, extreme or not, have clearly been effective.