Keenan Allen

Jim Harbaugh admits Bears got the better end of Keenan Allen deal

The Chargers head coach says the Bears got a bargain with Allen

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As part of several moves the Chargers were forced to make to comply with cap salary rules, the Chargers were forced to trade Keenan Allen on the last year of his contract to the Bears.

In exchange, the Bears sent the Chargers their fourth-round pick in the upcoming 2024 NFL draft. But at that price, the Bears got a bargain for the sixth-time Pro Bowler, barring he continues to play well in Chicago and maybe even get an extension done.

Either way, at that price point, Chargers head coach Jim Harbaugh concedes the Bears won that trade.

"It's the business part of it," he told reporters regarding the trade. "And everybody does what's in their best interest. And Keenan, I mean, [you] make $23 million a year and play in Chicago, you know—who's got it better? I'm happy for Keenan.

"It's just a cool thing when there's that transparent part. It's not like anything else. Everybody knows this is doing what's good for you, and his family and doing the honorable thing. Heckuva deal for him. Did we want him? Yeah. Him, Mike [Williams], Khalil [Mack], Joey [Bosa]."

As aforementioned, the Chargers have been making a flurry of moves to try and stay under the cap. They were forced to release wide receiver Mike Williams, who signed with the Jets. They convinced Khalil Mack to agree to a restructured contract. And, of course, they traded Allen.

Allen has played all 11 seasons of his NFL career with the Chargers. Despite some injury problems, Allen is considered one of the more elite receivers in the league.

From six Pro Bowl nods, Allen's racked up six 1,000-yard seasons, including his single-season career-high 1,243 yards last season. He's scored 59 career touchdowns and caught footballs at a 69.1% clip. He's known to have phenomenal hands and a well-rounded skillset.

That's what made trading him so difficult for the Chargers.

"Yeah, I knew who I was trading," general manager Joe Hortiz said after trading him. "He's a very talented player and I respect him as a player, as a person. It's difficult when you have to cut a player, trade a player, release a player. It's always difficult for a player like him certainly, but it creates an opportunity for other players to step up. Again, we're not done building that room out so we're going to look to continue to add pieces to that room.

"I think when you're talking about trading Keenan specifically, yeah that's not a decision you make with no acknowledgment of, 'This is a talented player that can still compete.'"

For what it's worth, the Chargers attempted to bring him back on a different deal.

According to Allen's agent, Joby Branion, the Chargers made one offer. The offer was a pay cut for the 2024 season with a two-year extension. Both years had even deeper pay cuts than his current pay. Allen's representation countered and it was rejected. Then the Chargers traded him.

But after a career-best season last year, Allen said he wasn't going to accept a pay cut.

"There really was no emotion," Allen told reporters at his introductory press conference with the Bears. "It was, 'I'm not doing it. I'm not doing it.' Came off my best season, so it's not happening."

Allen will now join DJ Moore and Charger-teammate Gerald Everett in a newly revamped wide receiver core. And to cap it all off? USC's Caleb Williams is the likely No. 1 pick and new quarterback for the Bears.

Ryan Poles said his team does a great job spotting cap casualties around the league and pouncing on them. Allen was one of their finds and they attacked the deal to get him to Chicago.

"Keenan Allen popped up, which was a really cool opportunity for where we’re headed, which is going to be with a young quarterback," Poles said. "I thought it was an absolute perfect fit. I don’t think there’s a better receiver in the league that can be better for a young quarterback in terms of understanding the NFL, timing, space, reading defenses.

"So I think that’s a great addition. It balances the field with [wide receiver DJ Moore] on the other side, Cole [Kmet] and [Gerald] Everett at tight end, [D'Andre] Swift at running back. We have a lot of really cool things that can get going and allow us to be dynamic and really special."

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