Vikings likely won't use franchise tag

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings aren't likely to use their franchise tag, general manager Rick Spielman said on Thursday, meaning the only way defensive end Jared Allen is coming back to Minnesota is on a new contract.

Allen's return has seemed unlikely since before last season, when the Vikings decided not to pursue a contract extension with the 31-year-old defensive end. The team signed Brian Robison to a four-year contract extension during the season and also has to decide if it wants to bring back pending free agent Everson Griffen on the defensive line. Allen, who carried a $17 million cap figure last season and would have made more than $11 million with a franchise tag, seemed a likely candidate to move on.

It will be interesting to see what kind of market Allen finds in free agency. He's said he would retire before accepting a job as a situational pass-rusher, but he might find that kind of a job -- which would let him chase quarterbacks without playing the run and adding extra wear and tear to his body -- more appealing than he initially thought. That role would also mean a lower salary, but if Allen can sign with a contender, it might be a way for him to make a late run at a championship.

Spielman also said the Vikings could cut or restructure the deals of players who are currently under contract. Linebacker Chad Greenway, who struggled last season while playing with two broken bones in his wrist, has an $8.2 million cap figure for 2014. Tight end John Carlson, who restructured his deal before last season and saw his year end early because of a concussion, is slated to count $5 million against the cap in 2014 and could be a prime candidate for release or restructuring.