When Jared Allen found out the Vikings were interested in trading for him, he became excited. Really excited.
The Vikings, he thought, were a team on the cusp. A team that could be one pass rusher away from accomplishing big things.
"The talent here is unbelievable," said Allen, the NFL's sack leader last season for the Chiefs. "On paper we have one of the best teams in the NFL. But obviously that doesn't mean anything if we can't work together."
Of particular interest to Allen were the two players who would be lining up next to him - Pro Bowl tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams.
"For me, they were the top reason I wanted to come here," Allen said. "It was a selfish reason obviously, but they can make my job easier and hopefully I can make their job easier."
In Minnesota, Allen should be capable of more than the 151â2 sacks he had last year because each Williams will draw double teams at times, leaving Allen one-on-one.
Plus, Allen isn't expected to be suspended for two games this season as he was a year ago.
Kevin Williams also could get double-digit sacks from the three-technique position. What's more, Allen's pressure should result in more interceptions and fumbles for the Vikings defense.
He was the best off-season acquisition by any team.
Players like Allen rarely are available, but he had a unique set of circumstances.
Allen is a recovering alcoholic who is one infraction away from a yearlong suspension. He says he no longer drinks. The Chiefs were in a rebuilding mode, and the Vikings were willing to part with a first-round pick and two third-rounders. Minnesota also made him the highest-paid defensive player in history with a six-year deal worth potentially almost $74 million with $31 million guaranteed.
Allen, who says it his goal to be the best pass rusher ever, has been a breath of fresh air for the Vikings.
He has given the team a surge in confidence and his presence has revved up the competition in practices.
He hardly can wait to start playing games against NFC North opponents.
"I think we have a division we can capture," Allen says. "We have a chance to dominate this conference, but we have to take the mind-set that we have to prove ourselves every week. To get to play in Lambeau Field on Monday night to open up the season - that's the coolest thing ever."