Jared Allen intends to retire as a Minnesota Viking someday. But it was hard to listen to him speak Thursday without believing he'll be playing somewhere else first.

"To be real honest, I'm going to have to look at the situation of the team," Allen, the veteran defensive end whose contract expires in March, told USA TODAY Sports. "If I continue to play, you want to try to win a championship at some point. Personal accolades can only go so far."

There's no question Allen, a five-time Pro Bowl pick with 122 sacks in 10 NFL seasons, intends to keep playing. He's says he's "got years left in me" at age 31 and feels refreshed physically after an injury-plagued 2012.

The Vikings are mired in a 2-8 season, though – a huge step back from their surprise playoff berth a year ago. They've lost 39 of their past 60 games, dating to the NFC championship defeat at New Orleans after the 2009 season, and could be headed for another coaching change.

"It's tough," Allen said. "You don't want to go out like this, that's for sure."

The Vikings' list of 17 players unsigned for 2014 includes Allen and veteran defensive tackle Kevin Williams, the two remaining members of a vaunted line that keyed the team's success in the late-2000s by stopping the run, along with nose tackle Pat Williams and end Ray Edwards.

Allen can rattle off the next wave of young talent in the Vikings' locker room. He points to recent turnarounds in San Francisco and Kansas City as evidence of how quickly things can change. He says he's loyal to the Vikings, who traded for him and forked over a six-year, $73 million contract in April 2008 after multiple DUI arrests and a feud with Chiefs management.

"Wherever I go, when I retire, I'm going to call them and say, 'Hey, let me sign a one-day contract," Allen said. "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."

He drops another strong hint when speaking about Edwards' superior replacement, Brian Robison, who just signed a four-year, $22.4 million contract extension, saying he's "really curious to see how B-Rob's going to do next year being 'the guy.'"

Allen has been the guy for years. And he's consistently said the moment he's not will be the moment he walks away, rather than becoming a role player to get a paycheck and a title shot.