MINNEAPOLIS -- Before free agency opened, Jared Allen professed excitement about truly stepping out into the market for the first time in his career, confident in his ability to play as well as ever at age 32, and optimistic he would be compensated fairly for his years of All-Pro production with the Minnesota Vikings.
Nine days after the market opened, Allen left Seattle for a second time Thursday, with agent Ken Harris telling ESPN's Ed Werder the defensive end would take the weekend to weigh the Seahawks' offer against the others he has received before making a decision. Allen also visited the Dallas Cowboys before the team signed former Chicago Bears tackle Henry Melton, and Harris denied a report that Allen turned down the same three-year, $30 million deal the Denver Broncos ultimately gave DeMarcus Ware.
Allen hasn't talked much during the free-agency process, and when it's all said and done, it's possible he'll say it was the same deliberate, thorough search he'd wanted all along. Still, after Allen's second visit to Seattle ended without a contract, it's tough not to wonder if things haven't shaped up exactly as Allen had hoped.
If he did join the Seahawks, it would likely be as the situational pass-rusher Allen said he'd retire before becoming. The Seahawks could put Allen in line for a championship bid, but they'd do it with a deep defensive line that already includes Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, among others. Seattle has about $15 million in cap space left, but if Allen were going to come in as something less than a starter, it stands to reason he wouldn't receive the kind of money Ware got from the Broncos or Julius Peppers got from the Green Bay Packers.
At the end of this process, Allen could still decide to retire and move onto his other interests outside of football. It's also possible the Cowboys, who have about $6.5 million in cap space left, could make a move to clear more space for Allen. But after he started this process looking for a full-time job, a fair contract and a chance to win a championship, he might end it by finding out only a couple of those factors will line up for him.