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By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
Eden Prairie, MN - After missing the first week of Vikings Organized Team Activities, a mullet-clad Jared Allen was back at practice Wednesday morning despite still observing the action from the sidelines.
During the past offseason, Allen went under the knife for the first time in his football playing career fixing up an ailing knee and a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder. These surgeries were the first real sign that the once dominant defensive end was indeed aging and when those thoughts creep into your head, you ultimately start wondering how much left you might have in the tank.
For Jared, one year remains on his six-year, $73.26 million contract that he signed with the Vikings before the 2008 season. During the first four years, it appeared that Allen was worth every penny but coming out of the 2012 season where Allen only registered 12 sacks and fought off injuries most of the year, questions surrounding his value to the team are understandably present.
As it stands today, Allen is about to do something that has become almost unprecedented for stars in today's NFL. He's going to be playing out the final year of his contract.
"I signed a contract for six years," Allen said Wednesday morning at team OTAs. "[The Vikings] signed a contract for six years. It's very rare when both sides honor that. A lot of guys get let go in the last year or restructure in the last year...For me, this is the commitment I made, let me honor that."
Despite carrying a salary cap hit of nearly $17 million into the 2013 season, the Vikings reportedly made no attempts to contact the defensive end during the offseason and restructure his deal.
"We're going to play it out and we'll come to a decision together with what the future lies," Allen added. "I don't worry about it. As long as you take care of what you've got to take care of between these white lines, and you're not a complete idiot outside of them, the money will take care of itself. I just want to play ball, have a good year and try to win a Super Bowl."
"I've never questioned my standing with the Vikings, I know where I stand."
In fact, despite declining production on the field, the Vikings value Allen so much that they have used him in almost every big free agent push the last few seasons including Greg Jennings during this offseason.
As for the future of negotiations between the Vikings and Jared Allen's camp, if it doesn't happen soon, it's likely going to have to wait until next offseason as Allen has no interest in mid season negotiations.
"I have rules about how I go about when it's football time, it's football time," Allen said. "If I go out and I'm worried about negotiations back and forth, then I am not focused on my job and I'm letting my teammates down."
Throughout his tenure with the Vikings, Allen has 211 tackles and 74 sacks including double-digit tallies in each of his five seasons with the team. Still, while the track record looks good, 2013 may be the tell-tale-sign for Allen's future with the Vikings. If he bounces back and has a solid year, he may set up a hefty final contract as he prepares to ride off into the sunset. If he struggles to stay on the field and remain effective, his storied career may be embarking on the decline.
Aj Mansour covers Minnesota Sports for KFAN.com. Feel free to leave comments and questions regarding this post in the space provided below. For Vikings updates and breaking Vikings news, follow Aj on Twitter. @AjKFAN