Jets, Texans had interest in Keenan Allen before trading with Bears

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Before he was traded from the Chargers to the Bears on Thursday, wide receiver Keenan Allen revealed that Los Angeles allowed him to explore several options for where he wanted to continue his career after spending 11 seasons with the franchise.

“There were a couple of teams that allowed me, I guess, to say where I wanted to go,” Allen said Saturday. “I only had two teams.”

Those two teams are the New York Jets and Houston Texans, according to Allen.

The Chargers are $21 million over the salary cap before free agency officially begins on Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET. In the process of aligning with the cap, pass rushers Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack both agreed to pay cuts while the team released veteran receiver Mike Williams.

After his contract was restructured last offseason, Allen declined to take a pay cut and was later traded to the Bears for a fourth-round pick (No. 110).

“It wasn't really an emotion. It was, 'I'm not doing it,'” Allen said of his reaction when asked to restructure his contract. “I'm not doing that. I'm just coming off my best season, so it's not happening.”

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Despite missing the final four games of the 2023 season with a heel injury, Allen set the individual record for receptions (108) and led the team with 1,243 yards and seven touchdowns.

The six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver leaves the Chargers second on the team's all-time receiving accomplishments list (10,530 yards, 904 catches) and third in touchdowns (59). He is coming off his fifth season with 100 receptions, which ranks third in NFL history, trailing only Antonio Brown and Brandon Marshall. Allen also holds the record for most games with 15 receptions (three) and ranks fourth all-time for most games with 10 receptions. He had four games with 10 receptions last season, tied for second most in the NFL.

Allen, 31, has one year remaining on the four-year, $80.1 million contract extension he signed in 2020 with a $5 million roster bonus due Sunday. While he said he and the Bears are approaching the possibility of a new deal “one day at a time,” his hope is to stay with his new team long-term.

“Sure,” Allen said. “Otherwise we wouldn't be here now. And obviously we will get there in the future.”

In addition to pairing Allen with wide receiver DJ Moore, who is also coming off the best year of his career, the Bears signed D'Andre Swift and tight end Gerald Everett in free agency. Next month, the Bears top the draft with the No. 1 overall pick with the possibility of selecting USC quarterback Caleb Williams on April 25.

Allen started Justin Herbert's NFL career with the Chargers and has expressed a desire to do the same, whether Chicago sticks with current quarterback Justin Fields, who is entering his fourth NFL season, or moves to a rookie quarterback.

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“I think I'm just a friendly guy,” Allen said. “I'm a friendly guy on and off the field. Obviously I know the game on the football field. I know the ins and outs, I know the zones, I know how to beat players, I pretty much know how to play. “I think I'm friendly with a midfielder because I'll be in the right positions.” . “I know how to communicate with him, and my body language is strong, too.”

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