When it was announced that the Chicago Bears signed Jared Allen last week, the entire NFL industry was surprised as the Bears were never considered to be a legitimate suitor for Allen.
On Monday at Allen’s introductory press conference, Bears general manager Phil Emery explained the team’s covert pursuit of Allen.
“It was a little bit right out of a movie,” general manager Phil Emery said Monday at Halas Hall. “It was very quiet. Just to give you a little aside; [Allen's agent] Ken Harris came to the hotel at the NFL owners’ meetings [in Orlando, Fla.]. We knew for it to remain silent we couldn’t have anybody see us meet or shake hands.
“We met at night away from the hotel. Ken had come to meet us and we were standing out facing the parking lot and [ESPN's] John Clayton came up to [Bears contract negotiator] Cliff Stein to shake his hand. Fortunately, John’s back was to Ken who was walking up to say hi to me, and I grabbed Ken and pulled him around a post [to avoid detection].” -Phil Emery, ESPN Chicago
Emery’s operations with the Bears have always had a covert scent to them. In his first off-season as the Bears general manager, Emery pulled off a trade for pro-bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall. A trade that no one saw coming. Last off-season when it was believed that the Bears had little money to spend on free agency, Emery signed the top left tackle, Jermon Bushrod, on the market as well as the top tight end, Martellus Bennett, on the first day of free agency. This season, in the days after the Bears season-ending loss, Emery signed quarterback Jay Cutler to a seven-year extension. Cutler’s extension was not discovered until Emery made the announcement at the press conference in early January.
Allen’s signing was the latest result of Emery’s covert ways.
Emery believes there is a benefit to being covert.
“It does make difference on any contract situation because you’ve removed the pressure of other situations,” Emery said. “The fact we were able to do this quietly removed [other team's abilities to] counter. We were the right fit and we were going to continue to push it through without it getting out in the media to allow teams to counter while we were trying to work out an agreement.” -Emery, ESPN Chicago
Emery is certainly one of the more intriguing general managers in the NFL. With a naval background, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Emery is an expert at operating on a covert level.