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By Bill Seals
Sports Reporter 

Chargers trade wide receiver Keenan Allen to the Bears

 

March 14, 2024

George Laase

Pro Bowl wide receiver Keenan Allen, shown here celebrating a touchdown reception, was traded to the Chicago Bears on Thursday. Allen had 59 touchdown receptions with the Chargers.

In a surprising move, the Los Angeles Chargers traded star wide receiver Keenan Allen to the Chicago Bears for a 2024 fourth round draft pick (110th overall). Allen holds franchise records in receptions (904) and receiving yards (10,530) and is a six-time Pro Bowl selection, including the 2023 season.

Allen was selected in the third round of the 2013 NFL draft by the Chargers. He played his college ball in Berkeley for the Cal Bears, where he was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection. He quickly established himself as on the premier route runners in the NFL at wide receiver and went on to have six 1,000-yard receiving seasons, including the 2023 season. Allen had a team record of 108 receptions in 2023 despite missing the final four games of the season with an injury.

"What Keenan Allen has meant to the Chargers for more than a decade cannot adequately be expressed through mere words," said President of Football Operations John Spanos. "Keenan's impact lives in the hearts of our fans, in the communities which he has served and amongst the countless teammates who have formed a brotherhood with him. There will only be one Keenan Allen, and we cannot thank him enough for the contributions he has made to our organization both on and off the field."

This was a business move. As the saying goes, "It's not personal. It's just business." Allen will turn 32 in April, has played 11 seasons in the NFL and will be a free agent in 2025. By trading Allen, the Chargers save $23 million this season against the salary cap. They will have a dead cap salary cap hit of $11.6 million on the books for 2024.

This move should be an on-field win for the Chicago Bears and could be an on-field loss for the Chargers. After cutting starting wide receiver Mike Williams to save $20 million against the salary cap just the day before, the Chargers have lost their top two wide receivers but saved $43 million against the salary cap.

The fourth-round draft pick from the Bears gives the Chargers a total of nine draft picks in the upcoming 2024 NFL Draft. The 2024 draft is deep in wide receivers and with the 5th pick in the first round, there is now a very good chance that the first pick for the Chargers is a wide receiver.

The draft is deep enough that the Chargers could pass on a wide receiver in the first round and find good talent at the position in the second round or third round or with their two 4th round picks. Any player they draft is locked on a rookie four-year contract, which helps with the salary cap.

Quarterback Justin Herbert will feel like he is starting over in 2024. Besides the implementation of a new offensive system under offensive coordinator Greg Roman, he will have a new set of receivers to throw to. Running back Austin Ekeler, who has 158 receptions the past two seasons, has left for the Washington Commanders.

George Laase

Keenan Allen caught a team record 108 passes for the Chargers in 2023 despite missing four games.

Tight end Gerald Everett, with 109 receptions the past two seasons, has signed with the Bears. Allen had 174 receptions the past two seasons, and Williams had 82 receptions the past two seasons, despite missing 18 regular season games. That is a lot of receiving production that is no longer on the roster.

Herbert will need to build chemistry with a new set of receivers, although wide receiver Josh Palmer and wide receiver Quentin Johnston will return in 2024. Herbert will have familiarity in the quarterback room, with the Chargers re-signing backup quarterback Easton Stick to a contract for the 2024 season.

On the defensive side, starting edge rushers Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack both restructured their contracts and will remain with the team for the 2024 season. With most of the defensive starters returning in 2024, the focus of the draft for the Chargers will likely be on the offensive side of the ball to help support their franchise quarterback.

 

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