Keenan Allen has been one of the Chargers’ most consistent offensive weapons since entering the league as a third-round selection in 2013. He has dealt with his fair share of injuries but has produced whenever he has been on the field. The 30-year-old is only one year removed from a stretch of five straight trips to the Pro Bowl, and his work out of the slot has been especially impressive, as that is where he has done most of his damage. Nevertheless, despite all his success, it is rumored that Los Angeles is looking to move on from him this offseason. If he becomes available, the Bears would be wise to shell out a sizeable contract to get him in the building, as he is exactly the type of receiver that can bring Chicago’s offense to the next level.
It is no secret that the Bears’ offense needs to make strides in the passing game, and adding a bonafide stud at the receiver position would go a long way in that regard. Allen might not be as flashy as other pass-catchers rumored to be available via trade this offseason, but he would arguably be the best fit for the offense. Chicago already has two quality starters on the perimeter in Darnell Mooney and Chase Claypool, and they lack a starting option in the slot. With Allen on board, the Bears would boast one of the most impressive three-receiver sets in the league.
Another factor that should make Allen appealing to Chicago’s front office is the lack of receiving talent in this year’s free agent pool. Jakobi Meyers, Allen Lazard, and JuJu Smith-Schuster headline an underwhelming group of pass-catchers who are sure to get overpaid on the open market. While Meyers and Smith-Schuster make sense as scheme fits, they have not been nearly as effective as Allen has, and they might demand even more money since they are younger and are considered less of an injury risk.
Allen has been an invaluable asset in Justin Herbert’s development, and he could provide a similar impact to Justin Fields. While Mooney and Claypool have proven to be starting-caliber players, they have yet to reach their potential and cannot be counted on to produce like a number-one receiver. Allen would immediately provide Chicago with their best receiver since Brandon Marshall. Fields prefers throwing to open receivers, and Allen’s ability to get separation with sharp route-running skills is second to none. While he might not have the shiftiness he did early in his career, he proved he can still play at a high level this season. The dependable veteran resumed his role as the Chargers’ safety blanket midway through the year and eclipsed the 80-yard mark in six of their final eight regular season contests.
The notion that he could get released is still strictly speculative, but when there is smoke, there is often fire in these situations, especially when a team is in as precarious of a position when it comes to salary cap as the Chargers are. They are currently $23.4 million over the salary cap for next season, and cutting Allen, who has two years left on his current contract, would create $14.8 million in cap space. While releasing the franchise’s third-leading receiver would surely be a tough pill to swallow, the presence of Mike Williams and Joshua Palmer, who had a breakout 2022 season, could allow them to move on relatively quickly.
Fields has gone on record to say that he would like the Bears to draft his former teammate Jaxon Smith-Njigba, but they might not be in a position to draft him unless they trade down further than expected in the first round or recoup a significant haul. However, he is still a projection, and Allen has already proven to be the player many think he could become. The veteran would be the perfect addition to a young offense, and he could provide a similar impact to the one AJ Brown had in Philadelphia last year.