Chargers trade Keenan Allen to Chicago Bears for a fourth-round pick

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The Chargers traded their longest-tenured player Thursday night, moving Keenan Allen to Chicago in exchange for a fourth-round pick in this year’s draft, the team announced.

Trying to free salary-cap space, the team approached the wide receiver about taking a pay cut, according to a person familiar with the situation not authorized to speak publicly about the matter. When Allen refused, the Chargers decided to deal him, with the Bears agreeing to acquire him for their 110th overall pick.

In 11 seasons, Allen, who turns 32 in April, caught 904 passes for 10,530 yards and 59 touchdowns.

“What Keenan Allen has meant to the Chargers for more than a decade cannot adequately be expressed through mere words,” John Spanos, the Chargers president of football operations, said in a statement. “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.”

His departure means quarterback Justin Herbert loses his favorite, most reliable target.

The Chargers also cut wide receiver Mike Williams this week and allowed running back Austin Ekeler to depart via free agency. So Herbert will enter next season with a vastly different looking supporting cast.

The team entered this week some $25 million over the salary cap, the release of Williams necessary to reach compliance by a 1 p.m. PDT deadline Wednesday.

The Chargers then reworked the contracts of edge rushers Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa to open more space, both players agreeing to take pay cuts, according to multiple reports.

Allen was unwilling to do so, and new Chargers general manager Joe Hortiz made among the boldest of moves possible.

Entering the final season of a four-year extension signed in September 2020, Allen is due $18.1 million in base salary. He’s also set to receive a $5-million roster bonus Sunday.

With a cap number of more than $34 million for 2024, Allen was thought to be a candidate for another extension, which would have given the Chargers additional immediate space.

By trading Allen instead, the Chargers saved $23.1 million in cap space, according to

Allen was a third-round pick — No. 76 overall — in 2013, coming out of Cal. During his time with the Chargers he was named to the Pro Bowl six times.

He’s the franchise’s all-time leading wide receiver in yards and catches, trailing only tight end Antonio Gates overall.

Allen has topped 1,000 yards and 100 receptions in a single season five times each and is coming off his most productive year yet, despite missing the final four games because of a heel injury.

He finished 2023 with 1,243 yards on 108 catches, playing most of the season without Williams, the Chargers’ No. 2 receiver who suffered a torn knee ligament in late September.

Following the season, Allen said he wanted to finish his career with the Chargers and balked at the notion of joining another team. In the past, he has hinted that he might retire as opposed to playing elsewhere.

Allen’s game — based on superior technique and route running — has aged well at the NFL level. He isn’t a player reliant on elite speed, instead using body positioning and close-quarters maneuvering.

After the Chargers moved to Los Angeles, Allen established himself as one of the league’s most reliable weapons. He missed only two games because of health from 2017-2021.

During that time, he went from being Philip Rivers’ favorite target to Herbert’s preferred destination. Allen’s prowess on third down has been a staple of the Chargers’ offense for years.

Now without their top two receivers, the Chargers would appear to be in the business of drafting a wideout in April.

The best available include Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers and Rome Odunze. The Chargers hold the No. 5 overall pick, with most projections having Harrison going earlier than that.

Their current roster features wideouts Joshua Palmer, Quentin Johnston, Derius Davis and Simi Fehoko, who was signed to a futures contract in January.

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