Chargers trade WR Keenan Allen to the Chicago Bears

The Sporting Tribune's Fernando Ramirez on the Chargers deciding to trade their longest tenured player in receiver Keenan Allen.

COSTA MESA, Calif. — The Chargers have traded receiver Keenan Allen to the Chicago Bears for a fourth-round draft pick.

That is the one name out of the big four that was expected to remain on the Chargers squad.


Allen was the longest-tenured Charger, drafted in the third round in 2013. He is coming off one of, if not the best, seasons of his career, catching 108 passes for 1,243 yards and seven touchdowns in 13 games.

“I don’t want to go nowhere else,” Allen said after the season. “I’ve been here 10 years, like you said, the longest guy on the team, so I’m not looking forward to anything else.”

Anytime Jim Harbaugh got in front of a microphone, the new head coach constantly mentioned Allen’s name.

Harbaugh and GM Joe Hortiz got commitments from edge rushers Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack to take restructured contracts, which saved the team $24 million.

They went to Allen and asked him to do the same, which he didn’t agree with, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. 

Allen said there were only a select number of teams he would entertain going to if he was dealt.

“If It did come down to that, adios amigos,” Allen said in exit interviews. “I’ll get picked up in the offseason or right before the playoffs like them old heads be doing.”

This one is going to sting for Chargers fans because of what Allen has meant to the organization. 

He has been the player that Philip Rivers and Justin Herbert could count on in third-down situations or was their security blanket.

Allen is the kind of player who, when a young receiver comes in, helps them along and teaches them about being an NFL player, both on and off the field.

The same way his big brother Antonio Gates did for him when the Chargers drafted him.

During his 11 seasons, he shattered numerous records in a Chargers uniform. He returned from a lacerated kidney and a torn ACL to put up 904 catches for 10,530 yards and 59 touchdowns.

Gates ‘ all-time Chargers receiving record was the one record everyone thought he would break.

“He’s getting closer and closer to my record [for receptions by a Charger], yeah [laughter],” Gates said at his induction into the Chargers Hall of Fame. “I know what he’s doing [laughter]. Yeah, yeah, yeah. He’s coming.”

He will be 1,311 yards away—one more season.

When Herbert came in as a rookie, Allen helped him transition from college quarterback to NFL star. It seemed that whether it was in training camp or on the field, they had a relationship in which they could find each other through any disaster.

Allen will be asked to do it again but in Chicago. 

The Bears have the number one pick overall in the 2024 NFL Draft. They are expected to take USC quarterback Caleb Williams, but anything can happen there.

If the Bears take a quarterback, they will have someone with experience helping make life easier for a rookie quarterback. Allen is one of the best route runners in the NFL and can create separation unlike any other.

He is reunited with receivers coach Chris Beatty, who coached receivers with the Chargers for three seasons and is now the Bears receivers coach. Tight end Gerald Everett also signed with the Bears recently, so a familiar face in the locker room.

On the Chargers side, Harbaugh or Hortiz have a vision for how they want to run things. They are going to shake things up, and more changes are coming.

Allen’s trade means that they have freed up $23.1 million, bringing their total cap space to $38.2 million with about $30 million to spend. Even though there have been four days of free agency, there are still solid players they can sign.

There is work to be done, especially since Joshua Palmer, Quentin Johnston, and Derius Davis now make up the receiving room.

They still have holes at running back, offensive line, defensive line, cornerback, linebacker, and other spots.

At the same time, the Chargers are missing a player who has been key to their offensive success in the last 11 seasons. It may be tough for fans right now to see Allen go, but they have to trust the process. 

“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,” President of Football Operations John Spanos said in a press release.