Photo - Hannah Foslien (Getty Images)

By: Aj Mansour |

Minneapolis, MN - If you haven't been paying attention over the weekend a lot has happened around the NFL. Narrow that down a bit and you can even say that a lot has happened within the Minnesota Vikings over this past weekend. Marcus Sherels, Matt Cassel, Everson Griffen, Jasper Brinkley and now Larry Dean have all re-upped with the squad while pro-bowl defensive end Jared Allen informed the team that he will not be returning for the 2014 season.

According to multiple league sources, Allen's agent Ken Harris informed the Vikings that Jared intends to test the free agent market and will not be returning to Minnesota for the upcoming season. Additionally, Harris claimed that Allen has already narrowed the decision down to five teams that from his perspective would be a good fit for what he believes he can bring to the table. That said, Allen is not in a position to make anything near the $14 million he claimed from the Vikings in 2013. So now a few questions arise...

(a) How much will a team be willing to spend on a 31-year old Jared Allen?

(b) How little will Jared Allen be willing to accept?

(c) If the numbers do not align, is Jared ready to step away from the game and retire?

It is my belief that Jared will be seeking somewhere in the ballpark of $14 million guaranteed. It is also my belief that teams will be attempting to acquire Jared for something closer to $10 million guaranteed. That's quite the disparity. So when the cards are dealt and the wagering begins, who folds first?

Jared has never been the type of guy who was going to hang around for too long and wear out his welcome. Fully aware of the common trajectory of an NFL career, Allen has made it clear that he had no inclinations to be that guy. The one who hung around too long in hopes of eclipsing records or winning a ring. We've seen that all too many times. Emmitt Smith, LaDainian Tomlinson and Brett Favre were all guilty of this. Some achieved what they were seeking while others simply faded away, tarnishing the tail end of their storied carries.

Heck, Jared even publicly encouraged Favre to steer clear of this when the rumors of a return popped up for the umpteenth time in 2013. He was quoted as saying "I'm gonna fly down [to Hattiesburg, MS] and tell him to stay retired...Brett, if you're listening, stay retired man!"

Allen has seen that story played out far too many times, and he's learned from it. He's even been very clear that he's not going to let that happen to him.

As the trade deadline of the 2013 season approached, Jared was very vocal about his situation and his future in the NFL. Seeing the writing on the wall for what could come down the pipe, Jared made it very clear that it was sign on as a starter or walk away.

"As long as I feel good and compete at a strong level and I feel like I can still help a team win and be an active role," Allen told the assembled media back in November of 2013. "I'll retire versus taking a step-down role and being a rotate guy. That's for the birds."

So, the question then becomes, at this point in his career what does Jared Allen have left in the tank? Will he latch on as a starter somewhere or will he be asked to take a lesser role?

With his current status and future plans up in the air, there is one thing we know for sure. And it came straight from the horses mouth. When Jared Allen does decide to hang it up and prepares for his possible enshrinement in Canton, he will do it as a member of the Minnesota Vikings.

"Wherever I go, when I retire, I'm going to call [the Vikings] and say, 'Hey, let me sign a one-day contract,'" Allen said back in November. "Minnesota will always be in my heart. But I don't know what the future holds. We haven't talked about it. I'm trying not to think about it."

Jared's not the same guy he was when he broke into the league 10 years ago. No longer is he the mullet-weilding leader of the "Mullet Militia." He's not the free wheeling party boy that got himself into trouble with the Chiefs. Today, Jared is a husband, he is the father of a 2-year old little girl and his desire more than anything he could ever accomplish on the football field is to be an integral part of his family's lives for year's to come.

Football is a job, it's a hobby and it's for fun. There's no question in my mind that Jared realizes this and his priorities off the field take precedence over those on the field. That realization makes it easier to hang up the cleats and walk away from the game if it is indeed time.

Aj Mansour covers Minnesota Sports for 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