Jared Allen has played eight games this season with two teams. He started 0-3 with the Bears. After a Week 4 trade, he is 5-0 with the Panthers.
The transition was a new experience for one of the greatest defensive ends of all time. Midseason trades are rare in the NFL, and even rarer for five-time Pro Bowlers.
Now approaching Week 11, Allen is settled in Carolina. The Panthers are one of two unbeaten teams in the league. Winning allows Allen to clear his mind and come to terms with the honest truth. When Allen signed a four-year $32 million contract with the Bears ($15.5 million guaranteed) in 2014, he passed on an opportunity to join the Seahawks after making two visits to the Pacific Northwest.
"In hindsight looking back, if I would have signed with Seattle and played in the Super Bowl the first year, sure why not?" Allen says. "That's easy. But things happen for a reason. I had a great experience in Chicago. Not everything was great from a football standpoint, but I'm here in Charlotte right now."
In 18 games with the Bears, Allen had 5.5 sacks. For reference, he had 85.5 sacks in 96 games with the Vikings from 2008-2013.
In five games with the Panthers, Allen has two sacks in what he hopes is a semi-revival.
"Sometimes, you have to go through a mess of stuff to have success," Allen says. "I don't regret it. I may not understand it, but in hindsight, you can always look back and say what if? The way it panned out with Chicago, everything fell into place and it felt like I was supposed to be there and the same here. Next thing you know, I'm here somehow, and I can't be happier."
Allen's play in Carolina gives him a chance to climb the record books. Allen is the NFL's active leader in sacks with 136, ninth all time. If Allen gains steam in the last seven games, he has a shot at moving past Michael Strahan, who is fifth at 141.5.
"I have my list of favorites that I've snagged, but I'll tell you what, I'll take whatever I can get, especially right now," Allen says. "I'm chomping at the bit."
While the Bears are hanging onto playoff life at 4-5, the Panthers' biggest stress is whether the team will have a first-round bye. Carolina holds a two-game lead for home-field advantage throughout the NFC postseason.
The Panthers have two of the league's top players are both sides of the ball. Quarterback Cam Newton is an MVP candidate that Allen says is "a big kid," who "keeps it light and keeps it loose." Allen says linebacker superstar Kuechly is "a student of the game."
Even in his short time in Charlotte, Allen has gotten involved in the community. This past Monday, he hosted soldiers at the Fort Bragg Army base to watch Monday Night Football. The homegating party was part of a partnership with Prilosec OTC and Taste of the NFL. Prilosec OTC is donating 1 million meals to food banks across the U.S., including the Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina in Charlotte.
Allen and the Panthers host the Washington Redskins on Sunday.
-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.